After years of advocating by the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and other key stakeholder groups, the U.S. Green Building Council has adopted LEED pilot credits that provide incentives for design teams to plan, design and build for resilience. NRMCA had proposed a pilot credit in September 2013 and was connected with another group headed by Alex Wilson of the Resilient Design Institute, a longtime resiliency advocate who had submitted a pilot credit with similar goals. Through collaboration, Wilson’s group adopted some of the key parts in the NRMCA proposal, specifically dealing with hazard identification and design criteria in the FORTIFIED for Safer Business program.
The three new pilot credits that reward design teams for adopting resiliency strategies are:
- Assessment and Planning for Resilience: In this credit, the design team must complete in pre-design a Hazard Assessment prerequisite to identify critical hazards, plus at least one of two options of either Climate Resilience Planning or Emergency Preparedness Planning (1 Point). Click here for details.
- Design for Enhanced Resilience: In this credit, the design team must design its project to specific design standards (including FORTIFIED for Safer Business) for the top three hazards identified in the Assessment and Planning for Resilience credit (1 Point). Click here for more details.
- Passive Survivability and Functionality during Emergencies: In this credit, the design team must meet any two of the three options that include thermal resilience (livable conditions in a building after a disaster), back-up power or access to potable water (1 point). Click here for more details.
Although these credits only count for a single point each in LEED, this is typical for pilot credits. Once a pilot credit is implemented and vetted on actual LEED projects, it is often implemented as a permanent credit and points are then assigned based on its overall impact regarding green building objectives which means points assigned to each credit could be increased.
NRMCA and its industry allies have been promoting changes to legislation, building codes and rating systems to incorporated resiliency design strategies for years. One of the key pieces of legislation that supports resilient construction is the Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act that provides up to $3,000 tax credit for homeowners and up to $25,000 to building owners who design to the FORTIFIED standards of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. If passed, the legislation would support LEED projects that implement the new resilience pilot credits.
Concrete construction has long been recognized for its ability to resist natural and man-made disasters, including hurricanes and tornadoes, fire, floods and earthquakes. The new LEED credits, combined with tax incentives could provide building owners with significant motivation to build to a higher standard, thus reducing the typical human and financial losses experienced in disaster events.