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Building Resilience: Expanding the Concept of Sustainability

Can traditional and new wood building systems meet evolving design objectives?
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Government and Private Initiatives

The concept of resilience has gained sufficient momentum that it is now encouraged to varying degrees through federal, state, and local government policy, and through numerous private initiatives.

Prior to the recent Earthquake Resilience Summit, for example, the federal government issued an executive order establishing a Federal Earthquake Risk Standard, which calls for new, leased, and regulated federal buildings to meet seismic safety provisions outlined in the IBC and International Residential Code (IRC).

“There is no more important contributor to reducing communities’ risks from earthquakes than the adoption and application of modern building codes and standards,” said ICC Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “To survive and remain resilient, and to assure the rapid recovery of local economies, communities must employ the most up-to-date code provisions. This executive order ensures that federal facilities and their occupants will be safe when the next earthquake strikes.”

The ICC works collaboratively with NIBS and ASCE to translate National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program provisions into the IBC. The Council’s three-year code development cycle incorporates the most up-to-date science and technology for seismic safety for broad use by designers, contractors, manufacturers, and code officials. The executive order calls for federal agencies to comply with the provisions of updated versions of the IBC and IRC within two years of their release.

The ICC is also a founding member of the US Resiliency Council (USRC), along with organizations such as the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA), engineering and architecture firms, industry representatives, and individuals. Created to establish rating systems for the performance of buildings during natural hazard events, the USRC recently launched an Earthquake Building Rating System, which measures expected building safety, damage, and recovery time for buildings subject to earthquake forces.

Resilience is also being encouraged through green building certification systems.

The U.S. Green Building Council recently added three pilot credits to the LEED program related to assessment and planning for resilience, designing for enhanced resilience, and passive survivability and functionality during emergencies.

“Resilience is becoming a major focus for governments and communities,” said Vicki Worden, executive director of the Green Building Initiative, which oversees the Green Globes rating system. “Green building has always included a focus on resilience. It’s just taking more explicit shape. Concern about changing climates is leading to promotion of integrated design processes. This encourages community input, site selection that considers regional climatic impacts, materials selection through use of life-cycle assessment and building service life analyses, life-cycle cost analyses, and moisture control analyses.” GBI also recently updated its Mission & Principles to include resilience.

 

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Originally published in Architectural Record

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