Report finds investing in disaster resilience is a no-brainer

Report finds investing in disaster resilience is a no-brainer

By Elisa Jiménez Alonso

A new report from the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) finds that every dollar spent on disaster resilience saves society six dollars.

Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had declared 2017 the costliest year on record for weather and climate disasters. 16 extreme events had losses exceeding $1 billion and causing a total loss of $306 billion, three times more than in the record year 2005.

The NIBS study analysed results from 23 years of federal disaster mitigation grants provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), concluding that investing in disaster resilience saves six times more than it costs.

Additionally, the researchers looked at the benefits of designing new buildings to exceed 2015 International Codes (I-Codes) provisions and found that every extra dollar spent here saves four.

Both strategies together could prevent 600 deaths, 1 million nonfatal injuries, and 4000 cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the long-term.

The public-sector disaster resilience building strategies the project team studied include:

  • For flood resistance, acquiring or demolishing flood-prone buildings, especially single-family homes, manufactured homes and 2- to 4-family dwellings.
  • For wind resistance, adding hurricane shutters, tornado safe rooms and other common measures.
  • For fire resistance, replacing roofs, managing vegetation to reduce fuels and replacing wooden water tanks.

The strategies to exceed minimum requirements of the 2015 I-Codes include:

  • For flood resistance (to address riverine flooding and hurricane surge), building new homes higher than required by the 2015 I-Codes.
  • For resistance to hurricane winds, building new homes to comply with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety FORTIFIED Home Hurricane standards.
  • For fire resistance in the wildland-urban interface, building new buildings to comply with the 2015 International Wildland-Urban Interface Code.

The report is accompanied by a white paper and addendum that outline public and private sector incentives for disaster resilience investment.

Download the full report by clicking here.

Cover photo by Troy Jarrell on Unsplash

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