The prestigious National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), empowered by Congress to identify ways to strengthen the built environment, has issued a series of recommendations to the Trump Administration, and resilience is at the top of their agenda. For the past four decades, NIBS, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization, has identified solutions to problems such as removing lead paint and asbestos; addressing mold and rot; and providing access for people with disabilities. Now, in this most recent report, they turn their attention to making buildings more able to withstand the impact of natural disasters.
NIBS sees mitigation as an essential component of resilience, citing the study by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which showed that every $1 invested in mitigation resulted in $4 in future savings. To encourage spending in mitigation, NIBS is supporting a new strategy of incentivization: “The goal of incentivization is to bring private stakeholders, such as insurers, financers and others, together with federal agencies, including the Department
of Housing and Urban Development, Fannie Mae, the Small Business Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Treasury and Department of Homeland Security, to align existing programs aimed at homeowners and businesses.” Based on the outcome of these groups working together, NIBS sees lower mortgage payments as well as reduced tax rates and insurance premiums that would encourage property owners to invest in making their buildings more resilient.
While the specifics of these incentivizing programs are not spelled out, the report recommends two paths forward:
First, NIBS recommends that the federal government “should invest more in mitigation programs prior to disasters to help reduce federal exposure for recovery after an event.” NIBS proposes working through the deductible for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program as one promising approach.
Second, the report urges the administration to “support cost-effective resilience through a holistic incentivization approach.” Again, the report does not spell out specifics, but sees great value in Federal agencies working with the private sector to “implement an approach that uses incentives to encourage home-owners and businesses to invest in resilience.”
ERA welcomes these recommendations. Our own work on resilience, detailed on epdmtheresilientroof.com, spells out our commitment to providing science-based research about the value of EPDM in a resilient roofing system. We welcome any action that would make mitigation financially advantageous, protect resources that are now being spent on disaster cleanup and – even more important – save lives that might otherwise be lost in a natural disaster.