Voluntary Resilience Standards: An Assessment of the Emerging Market for Resilience in the Built Environment

This report offers an analysis of 14 voluntary resilience standards by which buildings can be evaluated. The resilience standards addressed are based on guidelines and tools designed to help communities prepare for climate change and hazards - including certifications, benchmarking systems, planning frameworks, and design principles. Recognizing that the market for climate resilient infrastructure standards is nascent, the report discusses how existing programs can encourage medium-term and long-term planning, evaluating the programs using the following criteria:

  • Target Audience - focuses on the type of facility, factors beyond those of the physical site, and the life cycle of the building
  • Impact and Scope - considers social vulnerability and performance goals for certain situations including flooding, earthquakes, and high winds
  • Standard Development Process - how community input was incorporated in the program design and the verification process

The resilience standards analyzed were developed by various organizations including nonprofits, universities, U.S. federal agencies, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program. The standards included vary in terms of being technical or hazard based, or holistic in orientation - addressing multiple hazards. The report broadly analyzes that scope, as well as their asset versus community based approaches.

Section 3 outlines the next steps to support the adoption of resilience standards, including to:  

- Streamline the market by increasing coordination among standards developers

- Develop pathways for shaping local policy (building codes and policies, beyond-code policies, revised zoning and permitting ordinances, financing and incentive programs)

- Develop technical assistance programs and guidance for property owners and managers

- Demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of resilience standards

- Engage in outreach through industry associations


Publication Date: May 2017

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  • Best practice
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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