Building Code for Sustainable Construction Emphasizes Functional Resilience

Each year in the United States, more than $35 billion in direct property loss is caused by natural disasters. Yet, while states and municipalities are seeking to adopt ordinances that require “green” or “sustainable” construction, they are overlooking disaster resistance construction.

To allow local governments to adopt green building codes that address high performance as well as conventional sustainable features, the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) have developed High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability 2.0. The criteria are written in mandatory language that amends and appends the International Code Council International Building Code (IBC).

The document includes the concepts in most other sustainability or green standards like energy, water and material resource conservation, and indoor air quality while also enhancing disaster resistance and setting more stringent durability requirements.

“Using these requirements will give forward thinking communities not just more efficient buildings, but more sustainable communities that have the ability to resist and recover from disasters when they occur,” said Wanda D. Edwards, PE, IBHS director of building code development.

PCA and IBHS have aligned the provisions with the concepts of both the Whole Building Design Guide and High Performance Building Council. Enacting and enforcing these provisions provides the basis for facility managers and building operators to obtain certification as a US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (LEED-NC) projects.

The criteria are organized by chapter and section consistent with the IBC format and intentionally limited to issues typically within the purview of the building code and zoning and land use officials. There are no requirements for sole source certification or fees that increase the initial project design cost.

“A sustainable building with a higher degree of durability can decrease the amount of materials going to landfills and use of community resources when disasters occur,” Steve Szoke, PCA director of codes and standards, said. “After Hurricane Katrina, more than 44 million cubic yards of building materials and contents were disposed of in landfills. The PCA/IHBS ordinance provides mandatory requirements for increased resistance to natural disasters with the goal of reducing the number of destroyed buildings, protecting property, and saving human life.”

To download a free copy of High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability, click this link.


  1. It is good to know that since 2011 they are working on sustainability in construction.

    Surely we have made great progress in the production of cement and now works with concrete are safer for the environment.

    You should follow up on this post or maybe tell how things have improved since then.

    Thank you so much for your article.

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