Courtesy ISO

Building code adoption and enforcement have improved in more than 70% of U.S. states tracked, according to a new analysis of the nation's code enforcement. From 2005 to 2015, 31 states improved, three were unchanged, and eight did not score as well, the study from ISO Community Hazard Mitigation found.

The most improved states were California and Oregon, which jumped three classes from Class 6 to Class 3 in both residential and commercial building categories, and Georgia, which went from Class 7 to Class 5 in residential and commercial. New Mexico and Pennsylvania improved from a Class 6 to a 4, and Delaware, Maine, and West Virginia advanced from a Class 7 to a 5 in both residential and commercial codes. Rhode Island, New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Alaska saw declines in both the residential and commercial categories.

"Adopting and enforcing increasingly more stringent building codes are not easy tasks for many communities," says ISO manager Dale Thomure. "But this is solid evidence that more effective codes are being adopted and effectively enforced across the nation. We're proud to work with so many communities toward our common goal of safer buildings, less damage, and lower insured losses from catastrophes and other weather-related events."

ISO Community Hazard Mitigation works with local code enforcement agencies to evaluate building code effectiveness. The company collects 1,243 data points that detail the extent and capabilities of each graded community's residential and commercial building code adoption and enforcement. The data includes adopted codes, local building department staffing levels, certifications, training, workload, administration, department review of construction documents for code compliance, and field inspection programs.

"We know that municipalities with well-enforced, up-to-date codes demonstrate better loss experience, and insurance rates can reflect that," says Thomure. "The prospect of lessening catastrophe-related damage and ultimately lowering insurance costs provides an incentive for communities to adopt the most stringent and appropriate code for their area and back it up with rigorous enforcement."