Obama Administration Calls for Stricter Building Codes

By and | May 11, 2016

President Barack Obama is asking the private sector to tighten building standards to reduce losses from natural disasters after studies linked an increase in extreme weather to climate change.

The administration will announce Tuesday the start of work by the organizations that set standards for residential and commercial buildings in an effort to improve safety during and after events such as fires, floods and earthquakes.

“We’re building for 50 to 100 years and if we don’t take into account what is to come, our investments are at risk of being washed away,” Alice Hill, White House National Security Council senior director for resilience, said in an interview.

Stronger buildings and infrastructure come at a cost, but the White House points to a 2005 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences that found every $1 spent mitigating potential hazards leads to an average of $4 in future benefits. Because the building code work is just beginning, there’s no cost estimate yet for how much stricter codes would add to construction costs, Hill said.

With scientists predicting more extreme weather and rising sea levels in the U.S. due to climate change, the administration says buildings need to be constructed differently. Obama often talks about resiliency when he visits storm-struck areas of the U.S., urging communities to rebuild stronger than they were before the tornado, hurricane or flood roared through.

“It’s a sound economic investment if you know that these impacts are coming so you’re not paying on the back end,” Hill said.

There aren’t national building codes in the U.S. States and localities generally adopt common standards set by organizations that are part of the International Code Council.

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Latest Comments

  • May 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm
    Agent says:
    I don't know about you Yogi, but I don't want Obama to tell me anything on any subject anymore. We have had quite enough of that in the past 7+ years, all with disastrous eff... read more
  • May 12, 2016 at 7:13 am
    Yogi Polar Berra says:
    The additional building codes won't do as much for loss prevention as it will to line the pockets of those in the construction industry. Obama hopes to coax them to vote for D... read more
  • May 11, 2016 at 4:30 pm
    Agent says:
    Hi Perplexed. I wonder how we have so many homes built 100-150 years ago that are still standing and being used. Back then, they built them right. If the plumbing, electric... read more

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