FEMA: Big data proves high building code standards’ ROI

Sources: Federal Emergency Management Agency; CP staff

FEMA presents the benefits of constructing at a higher building code standard for natural disasters such as winds, floods and seismic activity in a new report, “Building Codes Save: A Nationwide Study.” The agency finds that 18.1 million buildings constructed at a higher code standard save the nation about $1.6 billion annually.

A 15-page “Protecting Communities and Saving Money – The Case for Adopting
Building Codes” summary or the full report detailing the four phases, methodology, results and conclusions are posted here.

The study uses newly available, coast to coast data on actual structures and jurisdictional building code adoption. It provides a real-life quantitative understanding of the impact of adopting the International Code series, introduced in 2000. Buildings abiding I-Code standards demonstrate reduced damage, resulting in savings to owners, insurers, the community at large and the nation. The savings represent the cumulative losses avoided from property damage associated with using the I-Codes or comparable standards in the face of floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.

By 2040, FEMA sees nationwide savings attributable to I-Code provisions growing to nearly $3.2 billion annually, equating to $132 billion in total losses avoided from 2000 to 2040. With projected savings and losses avoided, study authors note, the dollar values represent considerable financial reasons for communities to proactively adopt and enforce hazard-resistant building codes. Study results fully support FEMA’s mission to help people before, during and after disasters, including programs and efforts that promote hazard resistant building code adoption. 

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