You may not know that the International Code Council (ICC) has deemed May National Building Safety Month, and that this week focuses on disaster safety and mitigation. To that end, groups including the ICC and the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) are touting the importance of state enactment and enforcement of modern building codes.

“Severe weather events cause billions of dollars in property damage and economic losses every year,” says Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “The supplementary disaster aid is designed to incentivize states to do the right thing by adopting and enforcing strong building codes, which would help their citizens, businesses and communities during the recovery process following a disaster.

“We know that modern building codes would significantly improve our nation’s safety and resilience over time, which ultimately will reduce taxpayer costs from natural disasters,” Rochman adds.

Last week, the Federal Safe Building Code Incentive Act (SBCIA) was introduced in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1878) and Senate (S. 924). The SBCIA provides qualifying states with an additional four percent of funding available for post-disaster assistance if they utilize nationally recognized model building codes. Specifically, states would need to adopt and enforce the International Residential Code (IRC) from either of the most recent two updates (2012 or 2009).

“By encouraging the adoption and enforcement of strong building codes through measures like the SBCIA, lawmakers can save lives, promote long-term fiscal stability, reduce public sector response and recovery costs, protect the environment, and create a more resilient society,” says Rochman.

Natural disasters often drive mitigation, according to the ICC. For example, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued an emergency order after Superstorm Sandy requiring buildings be constructed with codes designed to withstand waves on top of floodwaters. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the next generation’s infrastructure must be able to withstand another storm. Stronger building codes reduce the risk of injury, death and property damage, according to the ICC.

Learn more about Building Safety Month.

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