AIA leadership urges for increased community resilience at White House conference
At the White House’s Conference on Resilient Building Codes on May 10, AIA EVP/CEO Robert Ivy spoke on resilient design and construction as better community investment, the AIA’s efforts to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030, and the AIA’s leadership in the Resilience Building Coalition during a panel on incorporating resilience into the built environment.
With an audience of government officials and fellow building industry leaders, Ivy relayed that architects are taking on new roles to prepare and fortify communities in anticipation of disasters and climate change.
“Architects and our signatory partners in the Building Industry Statement on Resilience recognize our role as stewards of safe and healthy communities,” Ivy said. He also noted that, while current building codes are meant to keep people safe, we also need to protect their homes and businesses—their investments—to minimize disruption after a disaster.
The building industry and federal government alike acknowledge that the impacts of climate change—including hotter temperatures, increased extreme weather, sea level rise, and more severe drought—pose significant challenges for the places we live, work, and play. Many of the buildings we have today were not built to withstand these future impacts. To address this challenge of preparing our existing and future building stock, the White House hosted a Conference on Resilient Building Codes to “highlight the critical role of building codes in furthering community resilience and the importance of incorporating resilience and the future impacts of climate change in the codes and standards development process.”
This event, convened on the heels of President Obama’s declaration of May as National Building Safety Month, brought together federal agencies, the building industry, and municipal leaders to strategize the inclusion of resilience qualities within building codes and standards.
At the event, a number of federal agencies and building industry leaders committed to actions that will enhance community resilience, including the AIA and its members who co-developed the International Green Construction Code and provide hazard mitigation, lead municipal planning and design climate adaptation plans, and advise on zoning and building code changes to improve community resilience.
Increasing the commitment to resilience
In conjunction with the White House event, the AIA announced that it will create a resilience curriculum for the professional development of architects, including resilient design and decision-making on hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resilience.
The AIA, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and 38 other leaders of America’s design and construction industry, also released a report on progress made since the Resilience Building Coalition announced the Building Industry Statement on Resilience two years ago. The report includes results from a survey of signatories on how their work has been impacted by the Building Industry Statement on Resilience. The full report, “Preparing to Thrive: The Building Industry Statement on Resilience,” found that almost 30 percent of respondents have seen an increase in resilience as a priority within their organizations. It also noted that more than half of the responding signatories have used the Statement to “advance their organizational mission statement/values,” as well as “provide support and/or validation for moving forward on organization initiatives.”
The Resilience Building Coalition, a union of 40 member organizations, shares a set of guiding principles to help the building industry advance resilient design strategies and policies. In a time when neighborhoods, cities, and even countries worldwide are preparing for the worst, these principles are needed more than ever.
Lindsay Brugger is the manager of resilient communities at the AIA.
Jeremy Sigmon, USGBC