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More than a Decade after Study’s Release, Institute to Begin “Mitigation Saves Version 2”

Monday, October 17, 2016  
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Will Look at Disaster Mitigation Efforts, Use of Codes to Reduce Risk

The National Institute of Building Sciences Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC), with the financial support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the International Code Council (ICC) and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), is beginning a new study to look at the cost effectiveness of disaster mitigation efforts in the public sector, as well as the benefits of using codes to mitigate the impact of natural disasters in the private sector. The Institute is continuing to seek additional supporters as this research effort gets under way.

In 2005, the MMC completed an independent study, funded by FEMA, to quantify the future savings from that agency’s natural hazard mitigation efforts. The finding, “For every public dollar spent on mitigation, there is a savings of $4 to society.1clearly indicated that FEMA's natural hazard grant mitigation programs had been extremely effective in reducing future losses from earthquake, wind and flood. The resulting report, National Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the future Savings from Mitigation Activities, has become one of the most oft-quoted works on the importance of investing in mitigation and has since been referenced by numerous sources, including members of the U.S. Congress and the media.

In the 12 years since that data was collected, the people of the United States have experienced a host of severe hazard events—hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods—a total of 1,653 disaster declarations from 2003 through 20152.

The outcome of these events will be reflected in a new study, for which the MMC will:

  • Assess public-sector mitigation grants and loans funded by FEMA and other federal agencies.
  • Look at enhanced design requirements for new public and private facilities to resist flood, wind, earthquake and wildfire.
  • Aggregate, for each natural hazard and by vulnerable stakeholder, the benefit-cost ratios (BCRs) of each mitigation measure, including financial, public health, loss of functionality, employment, historical value, the environment, displacement and other relevant impacts.
  • Identify, for the entities that fund mitigation measures, the mitigation opportunities that provide the best value, thereby setting an important benchmark for gauging progress towards community resilience over the long term, and establishing frameworks for collecting disaster performance data and a common methodology for estimating future losses.

The initial study established that mitigation saves money for the public sector. An even stronger case can be made if private-sector investments are included. However, the magnitude of the savings has yet to be quantified. This new study, which will deliver the cost-benefit data for a variety of stakeholders, should provide the demonstrable proof.

The Institute continues to seek other organizations to support this national effort by providing funding for this project. To participate, contact rcolker@nibs.org.

Learn more about the original study, Mitigation Saves, and the work of the Multihazard Mitigation Council.

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1Multihazard Mitigation Council (2005). Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities. National Institute of Building Sciences, Washington, D.C.
2http://www.fema.gov/disasters/grid/year. Disaster Declarations by Year. Federal Emergency Management Agency website, October 10, 2016.


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