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National Institute of Building Sciences Issues Interim Report on the Value of Mitigation

Tuesday, January 8, 2019  
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Looks at Benefits that Can Be Achieved by  Designing Buildings to Up-to-Date Codes

Today, the National Institute of Building Sciences issued the next report in its multi-year study on the benefits of investing in hazard mitigation. The Institute unveiled the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report during the Opening Keynote Breakfast held at Building Innovation 2019: The National Institute of Building Sciences Seventh Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 Interim Report highlights the significant savings that result from implementing mitigation strategies in terms of safety, and the prevention of property loss and disruption of day-to-day life. The report is a compilation of the project team’s results to this point and includes the finding from the 2017 Interim Report, released in January 2018, and a second report, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure, released in October 2018.

For this part of the ongoing study, the Institute’s project team looked at the benefits of designing buildings to meet the 2018 International Residential Code (IRC) and 2018 International Building Code (IBC)—the model building codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC)—versus the prior generation of codes represented by 1990-era design and National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements. The project team found a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested.

Based on the project team’s estimates, communities that consistently meet the latest editions of commonly adopted code requirements, culminating in the 2018 IRC and IBC, have added 30,000 new jobs to the construction-materials industry and an approximate .3% increase in utilization of domestically produced construction materials for each year of new construction (over what would have been if buildings were designed as they were in 1990).

The code-related mitigation strategies the project team studied demonstrated that:

  • For flood resistance, incorporating at least one foot of freeboard into the elevation requirements to comply with the 2018 I-Codes saved $6 for every $1 invested.
  • For resistance to hurricane winds, complying with roofing and a variety of openings and connection detailing requirements in the 2018 I-Codes saved $10 for every $1 invested.
  • For resistance to earthquakes, building new buildings stronger and stiffer relative to comply with the 2018 I-Codes saved $12 for every $1 invested.

The report determined that these benefits carry over to all building stakeholders, from developers, title holders and lenders, to tenants and communities.

In the 2017 Interim Report, released at this time last year, the Institute’s project team looked at the results of 23 years of federally funded mitigation grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and found mitigation funding can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs, for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation.

In the 2017 report, the project team also looked at scenarios that focus on designing new buildings to exceed provisions of the 2015 IBC and IRC and meeting the 2015 International Wildland Urban Interface Code, which demonstrated that investing in hazard mitigation measures to exceed select code requirements can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent.

The report released in October 2018 looked at case studies for utility and transportation infrastructure based on EDA grants and California projects. In further analysis, the project team found a national benefit of $4 for every $1 invested.

In 2005, the Institute released its original mitigation report, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities, which was funded by FEMA. That study determined FEMA mitigation grants to have a benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of 4:1. One of the report’s key findings, “For every $1 spent on mitigation, there is a $4 return of avoided losses in the future,” is often cited by Congress and the media.

As were the preceding reports, the 2018 Interim Report is an independent work, funded with the support of public- and private-organizations interested in expanding the understanding of the benefits of hazard mitigation. Sponsors for the study include FEMA, HUD, EDA, ICC, IBHS, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).  Funding is still needed to study the benefits of additional mitigation strategies.

To vet the methodology used and ensure the study’s accuracy, the Institute received input from renowned experts in resilience across all hazard types, including academia, non-profits, government agencies and the private sector. Experts were engaged to conduct the analyses and additional experts were invited to peer-review the results. Over 100 subject matter experts participated in the development and review of the study methodologies and findings.

Download the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report.


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