Existing buildings are a key asset to the nation. There are over 5.6 million commercial buildings and 118 million housing units in the United States. The average age is 41.7 years old, but most are 15 years or older. The vast majority, both by number and square footage, are small (less than 50,000 square feet). Existing buildings, however, can become a drag on communities and the economy if they no longer meet the needs of today’s society. Policymakers, building tenants and owners are placing increased emphasis on the performance of buildings, including sustainability, health and resilience. The existing building stock must be prepared to respond.
In its 2018 report, Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) Consultative Council addresses ways to improve the performance of the nation’s existing building stock. The report — which goes to the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress — is intended to be a starting point for a much broader dialogue across the building industry and with policymakers, and offers a number of recommendations to move forward. The Consultative Council outlined efforts undertaken to date and looked at ways to address the challenges that still remain, including:
Financing and Incentives – While most building and home owners recognize the benefits that can happen when a building or home is upgraded, in almost every case, those changes require financing.
Codes and Standards – In the United States, a number of codes and standards developing organizations publish documents that specifically relate to existing buildings and the challenges discussed in the report.
Materials and Waste – Existing buildings, both in their initial design and construction and in operations, have a significant influence on resource use.
Workforce – To effectively execute retrofit measures and the ongoing operations and maintenance of existing buildings, the nation requires a workforce with the necessary skills and abilities.
Information Resources and Market Drivers – Information is power. Improving the building stock and individual buildings requires information on their current status and a future state for which to strive.
The Consultative Council — a representative council of the nation’s building community that makes recommendations directly to the executive and legislative branches of government to improve our nation’s buildings and infrastructure — brings together representatives from leading organizations that represent all aspects of design, construction, operation and regulation to examine important issues before the industry. The Council is made up of key organizations representing various sectors of the building community, including standards and model code developing organizations such as the International Code Council, which is a member. Sara Yerkes, senior vice president of Government Relations at the International Code Council, served as chair and the Code Council’s representative on the Consultative Council.