Congress Hears Testimony on Building Codes and Natural Disasters

WASHINGTON — In an effort to help better prepare the nation for times of natural disaster, and to lessen the cost of damage and recovery, a Congressional hearing will examine how building codes and mitigation efforts minimize costs associated with disasters and save lives.

H.R. 2069, the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21), Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-13), and Congressman Richard Hanna (NY-24) provides incentives, through mitigation assistance, to states to adopt and implement statewide building codes to minimize damages from disasters.

The Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, chaired by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), will receive testimony from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), emergency management organizations and officials, and the private sector, as well as Rep. Diaz-Balart.

Watch Live Testimony

The Congressional Budget Office has previously found that for every dollar invested in disaster mitigation, three dollars are saved. A recent study of the potential impacts of H.R. 2069, focusing specifically on hurricane and wind damages, found that $11 billion in net savings would have resulted since 1988 had building codes been adopted.

Supported by BuildStrong , a coalition of national business and consumer organizations, companies, and emergency management officials dedicated to promoting stronger building codes  urges enactment of the Safe Building Codes Incentive Act. Members include the Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Code Council, National Fire Protection Association, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, and State Farm Insurance Companies.

The Safe Building Code Incentive Act would create a financial incentive for states that have adopted and are currently enforcing statewide building codes. Under the proposed law, states that adopt and enforce nationally recognized codes for residential and commercial structures would qualify for an additional four-percent of funding available for post-disaster grants. The program would be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Model building codes can help protect homes and buildings from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fire, ice storms and other natural catastrophes. Standardized building codes, adopted at the state level to address state-specific perils, promote a level and consistent playing field for design professionals, suppliers, and builders and creating a minimum standard upon which consumers can rely.

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