On October 12, 2023, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released its Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for its Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grant program. In a significant departure from earlier BRIC cycles, this upcoming cycle will apportion more than 10 percent of available funding specifically for code-related projects, with $137 million dollars of the $1 billion total allocation set aside. For comparison, of the awards made during the first three BRIC cycles (FY20, FY 21, and FY22), only $7.8 million dollars were spread across 40 code-related awards. Prior BRIC code project awards supported the adoption of the 2021 International Codes® (I-Codes), training, building department accreditation, and digital solutions to improve building department services.
The announcement represents a revolutionary shift in FEMA’s commitment to helping state, local, tribal, and territorial governments adopt, implement, and enforce hazard resistant codes. FEMA’s approach aligns with recommendations in bipartisan legislation that previously cleared the U.S House 383 to 41.
While FEMA has long recognized the importance of building codes, the agency has put added emphasis on their importance given repeated research demonstrating building codes’ outsized role in community resilience as the U.S. has experienced more severe and more expensive disasters in recent years. In 2019, FEMA released its seminal Building Codes Save: A Nationwide Study of Loss Prevention, which found that up-to-date building codes could save the nation $600 billion in losses avoided from earthquake, hurricane, and flood hazards. In 2022, the White House announced the National Initiative to Advance Building Codes (NIABC) and tapped FEMA to lead the effort.
The significant investment in codes in the upcoming BRIC cycle demonstrates how the NIABC is driving tangible changes through federal assistance with the greatest possible return on investment. The National Institute of Building Science (NIBS) has consistently found that modern codes provide an outsized benefit—$11 in mitigation savings for every $1 invested— compared to brick and mortar mitigation projects.
“The Code Council applauds FEMA’s historic investment in resilient building codes,” said Code Council CEO, Dominic Sims, CBO. “The adoption and effective implementation of hazard-resistant codes is the most impactful mitigation measure. These resources will ensure that communities across the U.S. can bring these strategies to bear, protecting countless residents from ever-increasing hazard risk. The Code Council stands ready to support communities in leveraging this unprecedented level of funding.”
For information on building code specific opportunities and how the Code Council can assist communities seeking to apply for BRIC funding visit iccsafe.org/bric.
Visit the Code Council’s Federal Grants webpage for additional support and information for building safety professionals.
Source: International Code Council