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The Cost of Resiliency

Resilience is a topic discussed every so often in the pages of this magazine. Most recently, Constructive Insights columnist Alan Scott wrote about “Resilience, Retooling, Renewables and Resonance” as part of the 2019 State of the Industry Report in last month’s issue.

Scott shared that when it comes to climate change, 2018 was the third year in a row for above-average hurricane seasons, and also included one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. “Resilience is, in part, described by the ability to resist and recover from shocks, which is an increasingly important aspect of sustainable buildings and communities in the face of such hazards. High-performance, resilient buildings reduce their impact on the climate in normal operations, and then protect their occupants and support recovery and resumption of normal operations after hazard events. A significant part of resilience in buildings, from single-family homes to high rises, is a structure and shell that is resistive to lateral forces (seismic and wind), uplift, impact, combustion and moisture. Metal buildings offer economical options to address these criteria.”

In early January, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) issued its newest report as part of a multiyear study on the benefits of investing in hazard mitigation. Unveiled at the institute’s annual conference and expo, the “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report” highlights that significant savings can result from implementing mitigation strategies in regards to safety, the prevention of property loss and the disruption of day-to-day life.

As part of the ongoing study, the institute’s project team looked at the benefits of designing buildings to meet the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) and 2018 International Building Code (IBC) versus the prior generation of codes. Based on this research, the team found a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested.

According to the report, communities that have consistently met the latest editions of the building codes have added 30,000 new jobs to the construction-materials industry and an approximate 0.3 percent increase in the use of domestically produced construction materials for each year of new construction, as compared to a baseline building built to 1990s standards.

The report also found that for flood resistance, by incorporating at least one foot of freeboard into the elevation requirements to comply with the 2018 I-Codes saved $6 for every $1 invested. For resilience to hurricane winds, complying with roofing, opening and connection detailing requirements as detailed in the 2018 I-Codes saved $10 for every $1 invested. For resistance to earthquakes, building stronger and stiffer new buildings to comply to the codes saved $12 for every $1 invested.

Over the years, funding for mitigation has declined even though the possibilities of events have increased. In the report’s forward, Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA, president, NIBS, notes, “Pre-disaster mitigation—preparing in advance for future disasters—better assures that hazardous events will have short-lived and more manageable outcomes.

Mitigation saves lives, preserves homes, businesses, government facilities, utilities and transportation infrastructure. It reduces damage to belongings; reduces the need for temporary shelter; helps economies to spring back faster, and lowers recovery costs. At the same time, investing in mitigation invigorates the economy through increased construction—whether the funding comes through federal or state programs, or through privately financed retrofits and new construction.”

Download the report here:


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