Resilient Communities Need Resilient Buildings
The non-profit US Resiliency Council was founded in 2011 by three structural engineers and a mortgage broker who were concerned that we are not as ready as we need to be for future earthquakes. From their unique professional perspectives, they identified an important obstacle:
Most people lack reliable information about what will happen after a major quake to the buildings that they live, work and depend on.
Without such information, people can’t understand how their decisions now will affect their ability to function and survive financially later. The result is under-investment in the kinds of materials, design techniques, and technologies that can make buildings – and therefore communities – more resilient. At the heart of the problem is the following truth:
Current building codes are minimum requirements that aim to save lives, not to keep buildings usable after natural hazard events.
Most US buildings were constructed decades ago, before we learned lessons from major disasters around the world since the 1970s. Even some structures built to meet modern building code standards or sophisticated green design targets may still suffer significant damage or need to be demolished. These challenges affect individual owners and commercial and residential tenants, but also whole cities and regions. Lives, livelihoods, our environment, and economic recovery are at stake.
Our vision is a world where we not only have a low impact on the environment, the environment has a low impact on us. We pursue this vision by improving community resilience, one building at a time.
The consequences of an under-prepared built environment can be devastating and cripple communities for years. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city of New Orleans not only suffered immediate losses of nearly $80 billion, but even ten years later had not fully recovered. In the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch New Zealand earthquakes, more than half of the buildings in the Central Business District had to be demolished. In 2012, more than 380,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed along the New England coast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Since the release of the USRC’s Earthquake Performance Rating System in 2016, we have quickly become the leading organization nationwide providing building stakeholders the information they need to compliment green design with resilient design, to achieve true sustainability.
A Member-Driven Approach to Promote Resilience
The USRC boasts nearly 100 members, among them engineers, architects, builders, industry leaders, and engineering professional organizations. Our members and the more than 70 professionals certified to use the USRC Rating System are engaging the diverse building stakeholder community to promote the benefits of resilience based design. Together we are changing the discussion around the value of long-term resilient thinking. We are developing rating systems for wind, wildfire and flood to supplement our earthquake rating system, and we are actively collaborating with lenders, insurers, and local, state and federal jurisdictions to incentivize investments in resilience.