The International Code Council launched a new global initiative to bring together experts from the U.S., Australia, Canada and New Zealand to improve building resilience worldwide. This new collaborative forum provides a valuable opportunity for participants to discuss common struggles, and to share knowledge, research, and best practices, as they consider the role of building codes in resilience and durability in the face of increasingly severe weather events.
The Code Council hosted the first roundtable in Newport Beach, California, from October 29-30, 2019. The gathering included building code developers and experts in emergency management, climate science and resilience. The discussion was moderated by Alice Hill, Senior Fellow for Climate Change Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. The group explored a broad range of issues such as extreme wind, rain, flooding, sea level rise, tidal surge, wildfires and heat stress, and how they create differing approaches to the regulation of buildings and building safety.
“The Code Council represents the U.S. building safety and regulatory interests in numerous international dialogues, and we saw the need for deeper international engagement on this important and timely issue,” said Judy Zakreski, Code Council Vice President of Global Services. “Over the course of months of ongoing intermittent discussions with our colleagues from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, we took the initiative to pull everyone together for what was a really fruitful two days of discussions in the U.S.”
In the wake of the workshop, the countries are continuing their collaboration, including developing a public statement and launching an initiative to formulate recommendations and guidelines designed with international applicability.
“With model codes that are developed through a robust consensus-based process, updated frequently, and used around the world, our mission is a global one,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO. “We are grateful to our international partners for answering the call and participating in this important dialogue, which paves the way for future discussion and collaboration on these consequential topics.”
Ensuring building resilience is a key purpose of the International Codes (I-Codes), developed and published by the Code Council. These model codes are updated every three years, which allows regular consideration of new technologies and scientific understandings, including those that impact flood maps, wind loads and other extreme weather events.
“Staying at the forefront of the discussion in which building science and climate science intersect is critical to developing state-of-the-art codes,” said Ryan Colker, Code Council Vice President for Innovation and Executive Director of the Alliance for National & Community Resilience, a subsidiary of the Code Council. “We are excited to continue our work with this global coalition to advance resilience in the built environment.”
The poignancy of the Getty and Kincade wildfires in California raging during the workshop was not lost on participants. Zakreski concluded, “The nearby wildfires punctuate the notion that resilience to intensifying hazards is something that should concern people beyond the building safety, regulatory and hazard mitigation communities – it is a matter of critical importance for all people who live and work in buildings – the general public.”