Hurricane Sandy batters the Jersey shore; a tornado rips through Oklahoma; wildfires destroy forest in Arizona. These major disasters have happened within the last year and caused billions of dollars in damages. In 2012 alone, 47 states received federal major disaster declarations, triggering a use of federal funds for relief efforts.
When a federal disaster is declared following an extreme event, taxpayers’ dollars are often used to help rebuild communities and cities around the country. An initiative is underway nationwide asking communities to not just rebuild, but to build back better.
The Portland Cement Association (PCA) and others in the concrete industry are urging the enactment of H.R. 2241, the Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act of 2013. The bill provides a tax credit to business or homeowners who rebuild in local regions that were declared federal disaster areas.
These efforts are also aligned with President Obama’s recently announced “Climate Action Plan”. The plan calls for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to convene a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop a comprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for consistently safe buildings and infrastructure – products that can inform the development of private-sector standards and codes.
“By enacting higher building standards, cities and towns can successfully weather any challenge and keep friends and family safe,” Greg Scott, PCA president and CEO, said. “The nation spends billions of dollars each year for relief packages, and in this challenging economic climate, communities cannot afford to completely rebuild each time a disaster strikes. By utilizing resilient construction techniques, the built environment is protected from the increasing number and severity of natural or man-made disasters.”
Additional benefits to homeowners can also apply as, in many cases, a resilient home will also be an energy efficient one.
PCA also is supporting research at the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub to help designers and builders quantify the physical resilience of residential structures as a portion of the overall systems concept of resilience. Comparing this performance against costs will facilitate communication of the cost and performance trade-offs of alternative designs.