Building Resilience: Saving Money, Saving Communities, Saving Lives

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The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing on the emerging public-policy issue of resiliency. There is a growing, bipartisan call for urgent action to improve the resiliency of cities, communities and critical systems. Thousands of homes, buildings and other infrastructure have been damaged or completely destroyed by powerful hurricanes, tornadoes and floods in recent years. The severe drought in the Southwest is wreaking havoc in other ways and prompting widespread restrictions on water use.

Jake Oster, Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT)

Cooper Martin, Director, Resilient Communities, American Institute of Architects (AIA)
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Debra Ballen, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS)
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Ryan Meres, Code Compliance Specialist, Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)
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Is it possible to have “strong” and “green” buildings that withstand hurricane-force winds, conserve energy and water, and remain operational during a power outage? If model building codes help ensure minimum levels of quality, health, safety and energy efficiency in new homes and buildings, why are there so many communities without basic building codes? How can we improve our existing buildings? In this briefing, experts in architecture and building science, risk management, and energy policy addressed these and other questions as well as related pending legislation, community initiatives, and tangible strategies and solutions for improving the resilience of our buildings.

By addressing the costs and benefits of resilient, sustainable buildings, this briefing will begin to explore the broader issue of risk management and the costs of not adequately preparing for natural and manmade hazards, water shortages, rising fuel costs, power outages, and climate change. According to NOAA, since 1980, the United States has had 151 weather/climate disasters that reached or exceeded $1 billion in damage. Seven of these events occurred in 2013. With FEMA in debt from large and repeated payouts for disaster assistance, various private insurance and reinsurance companies are beginning to address climate-change mitigation and adaptation by investing in measures to create more resilient buildings and infrastructure.


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