Organizations Announce Commitment to Promote Resilient Buildings

Leaders of America’s design and construction industry – along with building owners and operators – for the first time have agreed to incorporate resilience in planning, building materials selection, design, construction and operational techniques to make the nation’s aging infrastructure more safe and secure. Resilience is defined as the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from and more successfully adapt to adverse events.

The leadership of almost two-dozen leading design and construction industry associations with more than 700,000 members generating almost $1 trillion in GDP today used the occasion of “Building Safety Month” to issue a joint statement on resilience, which can be found at https://www.ashrae.org/File%20Library/doclib/statement.pdf.

The statement was unveiled at a press conference at the National Building Museum, where a major exhibition titled Designing for Disaster presents design and building solutions for disaster mitigation, opened May 11.

“We recognize that natural and man-made hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation,” reads the statement, in part. “We further recognize that contemporary planning, building materials, design, construction and operational techniques can make our communities more resilient to these threats.”

The leadership committed their design and construction sector organizations to significantly improve the resilience of the nation’s entire built environment through research into new materials, construction procedures and other methods to improve the standard of practice. Among other things, they also committed the industry to educating itself through continuous learning; to advocating for effective land use policies; to responding to disasters alongside first responders; and to planning for future events, with a strategy for fast recovery.

ASHRAE has been engaged in the area of resilience for a number of years. Its guidance includes ASHRAE Guideline 29-2009, “Guideline for the Risk Management of Public Health and Safety in Buildings;” the “Report of Presidential Ad Hoc Committee for Building Health and Safety under Extraordinary Incidents” developed after the events of Sept. 11, 2001; and guidance related to seismic restraint, including the “Practical Guide to Seismic Restraint, 2nd Edition” and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 171-2008, Method of Testing Seismic Restraint Devices for HVAC&R Equipment.

“The built environment industry strives to design, construct and operate buildings to withstand both natural disasters and man-made hazards,” ASHRAE President Bill Bahnfleth said. “We must use the knowledge gleaned from disasters like the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Superstorm Sandy, last year’s Oklahoma City tornado and others, as well as predictions of the effects of climate change, to our advantage to save lives and infrastructure in the future. ASHRAE is pleased to stand beside these other organizations in making this commitment to protect the public and building stock.”

In addition to ASHRAE, here is a list of organizations signing onto the joint statement on resilience: 

  • American Council of Engineering Companies
  • American Institute of Architects
  • American Planning Association
  • American Society of Civil Engineers
  • American Society of Interior Designers
  • American Society of Landscape Architects
  • American Society of Plumbing Engineers
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Associated General Contractors of America 
  • Building Owners and Managers Association
  • International Code Council
  • International Interior Design Association
  • Lean Construction Institute
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Institute of Building Sciences International Facility Management Association
  • National Society of Professional Engineers
  • Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors  
  • Urban Land Institute
  • U.S. Green Building Council

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its more than 50,000 members worldwide focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today. More information can be found at www.ashrae.org/news.

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