The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) participated in the White House Conference on Resilient Building Codes May 10, taking part in discussions of economic and community benefits of resilient design and actions the federal government and the private sector can take to advance resilience in the built environment.
“While we can do our best to slow the increase in climate volatility, we also have to focus on the fact that our homes, buildings, campuses, and communities must ultimately withstand the forces of nature,” Rick Fedrizzi, chief executive officer and founding chair, USGBC, said. “A focus on resiliency is a necessary companion to sustainable thinking and strategies in real estate and urban development.”
Senior administration officials from the White House, the U.S. Army, the Department of State, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development joined mayors, scientists, and industry leaders on panels highlighting opportunities for, and challenges to, institutionalizing resilience in buildings and infrastructure more comprehensively across the country.
Kenneth Kunkel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research professor at North Carolina State University, spoke about the evaluation of future risk exposure in a world with a changing climate.
“We can say with virtual certainty that current design values based solely on historical data are underestimates of the actual future risk,” Kunkel said.
Similar conclusions were drawn in a 2011 research paper co-published by the USGBC and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Recently, the USGBC co-hosted the Resilient Cities Summit, added a set of resilience-focused pilot credits to the LEED green-building rating program, and worked with partner organization Green Business Certification Inc. to further a suite of new rating systems offering actionable assessment tools that can help a broad set of players in buildings, landscapes, and infrastructure address enhanced resilience.
The summit called on participating organizations to pledge to continue and expand their work on resilience in the context of a changing climate. The USGBC issued the following commitment:
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) commits to actively engaging through its partnership in Resilient Communities for America (RC4A) and additional efforts to promote resilient building codes in communities across the country. Through dialogues among industry and public sector leaders, release of groundbreaking research and hosting public events, RC4A will shed light on opportunities to advance resilience and long-term performance in codes, standards and other policies, and publicize community leadership in these areas.
USGBC also commits to develop and promote the International Green Construction Code, powered by Standard 189.1, a continually evolving and improving code overlay for jurisdictions seeking to adopt deeper sustainability and climate resilience measures into their building codes. USGBC commits to co-hosting a convening of leading mayors around resilience strategies, including codes, to be held in 2016 or early 2017. We also commit to highlighting best practice for codes and standards to support deployment of demand response strategies facilitating resilience at the micro-grid scale.
We will engage in an expansion of the conversation around resilience and codes to water and landscape elements, to consider how codes in drought areas can support appropriate vegetation strategies that have net ecosystem benefits. Lastly, USGBC commits to posting and promoting resources relating to climate resilient design and policy on usgbc.org and its various communications channels.
The National Institute of Building Sciences coordinated the event on behalf of the White House National Security Council Staff, the National Economic Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Office of Management and Budget.