Four Distinct Categories of Resilience in the Built Environment

ICC shows the Nation why resilience starts with the building codes
By Dominic Sims, CEO, International Code Council

Resilient, healthy, and sustainable communities all have one thing in common: They adopt and enforce the most up-to-date codes.

Using current building codes are the best way to ensure safe, solid construction and resiliency. And the ICC’s suite of model codes, or I-Codes—focused on reducing the negative effects of the built environment on our health and the natural environment, and promoting efficient and sound construction development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies – are the best of those building codes.

For decades, ICC’s codes and standards have addressed resiliency and energy-related issues. We remain committed to working with Member jurisdictions and industry partners to bring the right building products and practices to market, labeling new homes and structures as more efficient, and spreading the word about the need for wiser resource usage and more resilient construction.

Resilience begins with strong, regularly updated and properly implemented building codes. Enforcing current codes and standards throughout all phases of a building’s life cycle increases the efficacy of new building technologies and offers a cost-effective path toward community stability following disasters.

Resilience in the built environment can be broken down into four distinct categories: efficient disaster mitigation and recovery; ensuring occupant mental and physical health and well-being; improving building life cycles; and creating a sustainable community.

Each category permeates the I-Codes:
Disaster mitigation and recovery: Provisions in the I-Codes address disaster preparedness and recovery – from how and where to build in flood plains, to constructing buildings that can better withstand natural and manmade disasters.

Codes are cost-effective, too. A study for FEMA done by the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Multihazard Mitigation Council showed that for every dollar spent on mitigation efforts – such as adopting current codes — four dollars were saved in post-disaster relief costs.

Ensuring mental and physical health and well-being: Provisions in the I-Codes deal with issues such as sanitation and pest control, as well as designing buildings with interiors that respond to the latest science on mood and mental health.

Improving building life cycles: The I-Codes enable changes to the systems inside the building or even the structure itself at some point after its initial construction and occupation, including repair, alteration, change of occupancy, addition to and relocation of existing buildings. As communities change, so do the buildings they use. Updated codes allow buildings to adapt, keeping a sense of continuity, while also reducing blight from outdated, unused buildings.

Creating sustainable communities: The I-Codes include sustainability measures for the entire construction project and its site, making buildings more efficient and less economically and environmentally wasteful. Building sustainably has effects that go beyond the walls and into the community. For example, car-charging stations make it easier to own eco-friendly vehicles, and smart grid demand response systems lower energy prices for the consumer and increase grid stability for the surrounding area.

Through the I-Codes and these new and exciting initiatives, the Code Council is determined to be a leader in resiliency. And we will continue to show the nation why resilience starts with the building codes.

Dominic Sims is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Code Council. He can be reached through Jerry Brown at To learn more, please visit ICC’s Resilience Homepage.