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Building Code

Building Codes: Driving Growth through Innovation, Resilience and Safety

Resilient and energy efficient building were once thought to be the elite ways to construct a new structure. Today, it is the standard way to build for communities that want to grow, prosper and be safe.

The International Code Council (ICC) defines resilience as “The ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.”

We frame resilience in the built environment in four ways: (1) efficient disaster mitigation and recovery, (2) ensuring occupant mental and physical health and wellbeing, (3) improving building life cycles, and (4) creating a sustainable community.

The ICC Family of Companies has several resources available to assist jurisdictions, manufacturers and the public with these building practices. For decades, ICC’s codes and standards have addressed resilient and energy-related issues and we remain committed to working with Member Jurisdictions and industry partners to bring the right building products and practices to market, labeling new homes and structures as more efficient, and spreading the word about the need for wiser resource usage and building resilient structures.

Creating a resilient nation requires diligent planning and innovative thinking. Incorporating new technologies in current building practices to achieve higher resiliency is exciting but can be expensive. Thankfully, effectively utilizing current codes and standards throughout all phases of the building’s lifecycle increases the efficacy of new building technologies and offers a cost effective path toward community stability during times of disaster. Resilience starts with strong, regularly updated, and properly implemented building codes.

A “whole community” approach

Communities are complex, interconnected systems. ICC believes that community systems are rarely, if ever, isolated from one another. When adverse events occur, all components in the local system must continue to function. An office building with functioning electricity cannot effectively operate if employees are unable to commute because public transit is shutdown. A structure built to code that stands tall in a disaster must be reachable by roads and sidewalks during and after that disaster to be occupied. Employees can’t effectively function if grocery store shelves are bare, etc.

For a community to be resilient, it must understand the resilience of each community function and how well each can respond to adverse events. That means having a community plan to get critical systems operating again. Resilience in the built environment begins with strong, regularly adopted and properly administered building codes, but communities must look across all of its interconnected functions to truly be a resilient community.

The International Code Council (ICC) is a member of the FEMA Resilient National Partnership Network, a founding member of the U.S. Resiliency Council and a signatory to the NIBS Industry Statement on Resilience.

Resilience is…

Efficient Disaster Mitigation & Recovery

  • Provisions in the I-Codes address disaster preparedness and recovery – from how and where to build in flood plains to constructing buildings that can better withstand natural and manmade disasters.
  • Codes are cost-effective, too. A study for FEMA done by the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Multihazard Mitigation Council showed that for every dollar spent on mitigation efforts like adopting current codes, four dollars were saved in post-disaster relief costs.

Ensuring Mental & Physical Health and Wellbeing

  • Provisions in the I-Codes address mental and physical health and well-being from dealing with sanitation and pest control to designing buildings that respond to the latest science on mood and mental health.

Improving Building Life Cycles

  • Provisions in the I-Codes enable changes to the systems inside the building or even the structure itself at some point after its initial construction and occupation including repair, alteration, change of occupancy, addition to and relocation of existing buildings.
  • As communities change, so do the buildings they use. Updated codes allow buildings to adapt, keeping a sense of continuity while also reducing blight from outdated, unused buildings.

Creating a Sustainable Community

  • Provisions in the I-Codes include sustainability measures for the entire construction project and its site making buildings more efficient and less economically and environmentally wasteful.
  • Building sustainably has effects that go beyond the walls and into the community – for example, car charging stations make it easier to own eco-friendly vehicles and smart grid demand response systems lower energy prices for the consumer and increase grid stability for the surrounding area.

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