Courtesy AP Images

Check out any green building program checklist, and you probably won’t find any specific provisions for durability and disaster resistance. Maybe that’s because those qualities are implied in high-performance building practices, but that’s not enough for the Portland Cement Association (PCA) and the Institute for Business and Home Safety. The two entities have created a package of standards that specify more stringent “functional resilience” requirements for state and local green building codes. Steve Szoke, the PCA’s director of codes and standards, explains:

Q: How does a building’s durability and disaster resistance relate to sustainability?

Szoke: Hurricane Katrina created 44 million cubic yards of debris, mostly from damaged homes, that went into the landfill. Regardless of how much water your low-flow toilet saves or how much insulation reduces your energy bill, if they end up in a landfill after a disaster, how good were they for the environment?

Q: What are you proposing?

A: Basically, that if a state or municipality is going to adopt a green building code that they mandate provisions for functional resilience according to what is now optional in the International Building Code, such as higher seismic or wind loads and compliance with standards for protection against floods, wildland fires, and radon, according to their local conditions and applied to some or all buildings. We think it’s important to include these provisions if you are going to mandate sustainability.

Q: Do the standards relate to residential construction?

A: We provide chapters on multifamily and single-family dwellings, respectively, which can be inserted if the state or municipality chooses to cover those types of buildings.

Q: Do your standards supersede or replace LEED or the National Green Building Standard?

A: Not at all. In fact, they supplement them with provisions that those two standards currently do not include, and vice versa.

For a free copy of High Performance Building Requirements for Sustainability 2.0, and to hear a webcast on the provisions, go to