ArchitectChats is back! We are kicking off season two of our podcast with the first of four episodes that will examine the intricacies surrounding a topic that every architect needs to know: building codes. The series, Dissecting the Code, will introduce you to the experts tasked with ensuring the structures we live in, work in, and design meet the myriad demands of today's world.
In the cutthroat world of development, architects are often asked to qualify and quantify the merits of their design. How much more efficient, resilient, strong, and safe will their project be, given this budget? The benchmarks for these metrics are often derived from the building code, the minimum standards of construction that ensures the health, safety, and welfare of its occupants.
But with the effects of climate change and global warming being felt by more people worldwide, many in the design community are endeavoring to go above and beyond this baseline. Programs like the AIA's 2030 Commitment and the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED standard promote high-performance buildings. The State of California will soon mandate net-zero construction for residential buildings. But buildings that are more resilient, more efficient, and better able to face the challenges of the future are still the exception, and not the rule.
So what if we raised the baseline? What if codes and standards began to integrate the measures required for buildings to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2030 or withstand 500-year storms? Cindy Davis, deputy director of building and fire regulations at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and Steven Orlowski, the director of codes and standards at the Building Owners and Managers Association International, discuss whether strengthening the codes would be a viable or even successful approach.
Resources: More information about the programs mentioned in the podcast, as well as related resources, are listed below. Also check out our Feb. 27 article on how building codes may be an effective driver of widespread resilient design.
- International Code Council (ICC), publisher of the International Building Code
- ASHRAE, a co-developer of Standard 90.1, a common benchmark for energy performance in the United States
- National Fire Protection Association, which publishes the Fire Code and the National Electrical Code
- "Developing Pre-Disaster Resilience Based on Public and Private Incentivization," a white paper by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)
- FP-104-009-4 Public Assistance Required Minimum Standards, a recovery policy by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- FP-204-078-2 Disaster Risk Reduction Minimum Codes and Standards, a FEMA policy regarding the use of building codes and standards across FEMA programs
- Fortified Home–Hurricane program, developed by Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
- "The Role of Existing Building Codes in Safely, Cost-Effectively Transforming the Nation’s Building," a NIBS white paper
- "Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities," a white paper by NIBS' Multihazard Mitigation Council
- Alliance for National & Community Resilience, a program by the ICC
This episode of ArchitectChats was brought to you by the ICC Evaluation Service, and produced by Lauren Honesty and Wanda Lau.