Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves Study

More than a decade after releasing its original report on mitigation, the National Institute of Building Sciences began a multi-year study on natural hazard mitigation. The Institute will release a series of reports as it completes its finding.

In January 2018, the Institute issued Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report. The 2017 Interim Report highlights the benefits of two mitigation strategies.

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 addition, the project team looked at scenarios that focus on designing new buildings to exceed provisions of the 2015 model building codes. The 2017 Interim Report demonstrates that investing in hazard mitigation measures to exceed select requirements of the 2015 International Codes (I-Codes), the model building codes developed by the International Code Council (ICC), can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent.

The project team estimated that just implementing these two sets of mitigation strategies would prevent 600 deaths, 1 million nonfatal injuries and 4,000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the long term. In addition, designing new buildings to exceed the 2015 International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) would result in 87,000 new, long-term jobs and an approximate 1% increase in utilization of domestically produced construction material.

Access the full Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves Documents.


In October 2018, the Institute issued Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure, which examines the potential benefits associated with investing in mitigation for select utility and transportation infrastructure. The project team reviewed 859 EDA grants, finding only 16 related to natural-hazard mitigation of utilities and transportation lifelines. Of these, the team acquired sufficient data to estimate benefit cost ratios (BCRs) for 12 mitigation investments. 

Because too few EDA grants were available to provide statistical value, the project team modified its objectives to analyze the grants as case studies. The grants included flood mitigation for roads and railroads; flood mitigation for water and wastewater facilities; wind mitigation for electric and telecommunications; and flood mitigation for electric and telecommunications. While not statistically valid, these grants, when viewed as case studies, offer anecdotal evidence of the potential value of such types of mitigation.

Since the grants did not represent all common retrofit measures (particularly in regard to earthquakes), the project team also analyzed potential mitigation measures to address the gaps. Methods they found to be effective included: replacing specific water supply pipeline segments to create a “resilient water-supply grid” that better resists earthquakes; strengthening electric substation equipment to better resist earthquake loads and to create a “resilient electric grid”; and strengthening highway bridges to better resist earthquake loads.

Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure is an independent work, funded with the support of public- and private-organizations interested in expanding the understanding of the benefits of hazard mitigation. 

Access Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure


Sponsors of this multi-year study include FEMA, HUD, EDA, ICC, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

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