PCA Advocates for Stronger Building Codes During Building Safety Month

It is happening again. Spring showers are growing into severe storms that include tornados and hail and rip through towns, leaving devastation in their wakes. The power of these natural disasters can be overwhelming. Although we can’t predict or change the weather, strengthened building codes can increase a building’s chance of still standing, even in the face of the worst Mother Nature can dish out.

During the 2015 Building Safety Month, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) is urging state and local decision makers to adopt the International Residential Code and International Building Code with appropriate enhancements to better assure disaster resistance and safety of homes and buildings. A study from the Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC) showed that every dollar spent on reducing the potential impact of disasters saves society an average of $4. With robust construction, the damage from major storms can be less severe, reducing resources that a community will have to spend on emergency response, reconstruction, repair and recovery.

“Simply adopting the most recent model code may not be enough. Jurisdictions must also be appropriately modifying the code to assure that it reflects the needs of the region,” says Steve Szoke, senior director of codes and standards at PCA. “We’ve seen the devastating damage of Hurricane Sandy and the battered Jersey shore, or when a tornado rips through Arkansas. These are all major disasters that have happened within the last five years and caused billions in damages. Stronger codes would allow for communities to bounce back soon after another disaster.”

It is not just the critical and essential facilities like hospitals that must be built to sustain a disaster. The people who provide these services need housing, safe water, food, fuel, monies, and more. In turn, the people providing these services must also have housing and services.

According to Szoke, Communities built to last start with comprehensive planning, including building codes that produce robust structures with long service lives. “Durable buildings with high-performance features, including better disaster resistance, make cities and towns stronger, and promote community continuity.”

Building Safety Month is a public awareness campaign offered each year to help families and businesses understand what it takes to create and sustain safe and sustainable structures. Founded by the International Code Council (ICC), the campaign reinforces the need for adoption of modern, model building codes, a strong and efficient system of code enforcement and a well-trained, professional workforce to maintain the system. It is celebrated by jurisdictions worldwide during the month of May.

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