Building code adoption key for state and local governments to withstand disasters

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has filed comments in a Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) rule-making proceeding, supporting in concept the establishment of a disaster deductible for states and local governments in lieu of raising the threshold for disaster declarations.

“The deductible concept has merit as long as it is leveraged to have the greatest long-term impact for all,” the filing states and can be viewed here.

According to the AIA, state and local governments can significantly increase their ability to withstand adverse events and disasters – thereby reducing the need for the federal government to continue to make costly disaster declarations – by adopting building codes, standards and rating systems as a method to improve building quality, performance and resilience.

In its comments, the AIA also calls for the incorporation of land use and planning decisions as a prerequisite for safe buildings and exploring opportunities to leverage private sector programs for enhanced capacity.

“A resilient building in a non-resilient community is not resilient,” the filing states. “It is critical that community plans, hazard maps and land use and zoning regulations reflect a cohesive objective of limiting development in vulnerable areas and encouraging migration to low-risk areas.”

In its rule-making, FEMA is considering the establishment of a disaster deductible that would require a predetermined level of financial or other commitment from recipients such as state and local governments before the agency would provide assistance under the Public Assistance Program when authorized by a Presidential major disaster declaration. The overall goal is to reduce the burden on taxpayers through mitigation incentives and risk-informed decisions that promote resilience.

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