The report, delivered recently to the U.S. Congress, recommends certain changes in the construction standards and codes of residential and commercial buildings. Until today, overcoming a natural hazard (earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados etc.) with no victims and buildings standing still was considered a success. However, the next step proposes that those buildings should also be operational after these incidents.
Certainly, the primary aim of the construction standards must be the protection of human life but there are secondary impacts from physical destruction that should also be considered. The economic loss, the shock of residents as they face their damaged houses and the social turbulence are some consequences that reduce the quality of life. Therese McAllister, manager of NIST’s Community Resilience Program and another report author stated: “Cities and towns can be rebuilt, but lifestyles are damaged, sometimes permanently, if businesses, schools, utilities, transportation and other essential operations are out of service for an extended period.”
U.S. Congress asked NIST to investigate the research needs, technological applications and strategies in order to achieve the desired performance. Their report included a large amount of research and implementation activities that will improve buildings response during natural disaster incidents. “The report provides valuable information about steps that could be taken to achieve immediate occupancy in the future,” McAllister said. According to the report, 4 key factors must be considered when creating plans for immediate construction occupancy:
- Building design
- Community needs
- Economics and social impacts
- Fostering acceptance and use of new practices
The report concludes by pointing out that it will not be easy to apply all these changes in residential and commercial construction industry but the benefits will be significant altering the way that the constructions respond in natural disasters.