New research shows that modern building codes have prevented around $27 billion in damage from natural disasters between 2000 and 2016, yet many cities still operate under decades-old regulations.
To adapt to the effects of rising sea levels, increasingly destructive wildfires, and longer storm seasons, many local governments have implemented updated building codes that recognize the realities of climate change and adapt building requirements to more adequately prepare for future disasters. These codes, which include increased elevation for houses in flood zones, wind-resistant roofs, and earthquake-safe construction requirements, save homes and businesses from billions of dollars in damage and make communities more resistant to the ravages of natural disasters. Yet recent research published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) shows that more than a third of new construction in the United States is happening in places with building guidelines that are more than 20 years old—or that have none at all.
While climate change arguments tend to get bogged down in partisan debates, agencies like FEMA have created "resiliency" initiatives as a way to garner bipartisan support for projects that boost infrastructure spending for weather-proofing homes and limiting damage from natural disasters. FEMA's Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program provides grant funding to local governments that want to update their building codes or strengthen enforcement of existing regulations. If implemented nationwide, FEMA estimates that updated building codes could accumulate up to $132 billion in avoided property losses by 2040.
Norman, Oklahoma Eliminates Parking Mandates
The city made a subtle, one-word change that frees up developers to build parking based on actual need and eliminates costly unnecessary parking.
Boston Transit Riders Report Safety Concerns
Almost three-quarters of current and former riders report feeling unsafe while using MBTA services.
Boston to Begin Zoning Code Update, Mayor Announces
It’s been nearly 60 years, but the city of Boston is finally ready to do a comprehensive rewrite of its zoning code.
Proposal Could Mandate Sidewalks as Part of Seattle Complete Streets
Almost a third of the city’s neighborhood streets lack sidewalks.
San Francisco Supervisors Punt Housing Ordinance
After hours of public comment, the zoning reform package aimed at increasing housing production and limiting red tape was delayed for further discussion.
Pittsburgh Launches Adaptive Bike Share Fleet
The new bikes include a recumbent bicycle and a front-loading cargo bike.
City of Stonecrest
City of Grand Junction Police Department
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
Mpact: Mobility, Community, Possibility
National Capital Planning Commission
City of Culver City
Salt Lake City Corporation
This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.