The federal government spends billions of taxpayer dollars each year response to, and helping communities recover from, natural disasters. As the number and severity of natural disasters has increased in recent years, so has the amount spent by the federal government: From 2014 to 2018, the U.S. has faced an average of 13 billion-dollar disasters every year.
Designing buildings to better withstand the impacts of natural disasters saves money: it is estimated that every dollar spent on building resilience saves six dollars in future disaster costs .
Although buildings are the responsibility of state and local governments, there is much the federal government can do to help communities harden their infrastructure before disasters happen. Federal agencies conduct research into the best ways to protect buildings from disasters, for example, and federal grants can help states and localities prepare for natural hazards. The federal government also can ensure that states and communities have the most up-to date data about acute and long-term threats so they can better prepare for future hazards.
Open Back Better Act of 2021 (H.R.1485)
Climate Resilient Communities Act (H.R. 1936)
Require GAO to evaluate and issue a report on the structural and economic impacts of climate resiliency at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, including recommendations on how to improve the building codes and standards that the Agency uses to prepare for climate change and address resiliency in housing, public buildings, and infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
Building codes represent a highly cost-effective strategy to help protect communities from the risks posed by natural and man-made events. Two recent national studies affirm the significant benefits up-to-date building codes provide communities.