FEMA Agrees: We Need More Resilient Communities and Buildingsby Don Knapp
Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Craig Fugate.
A new effort is required to communicate climate risks and develop
greater resilience at the local level, according to Craig Fugate,
Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA).
Fugate served as the keynote speaker on Feb. 29 at the National Leadership Speaker Series on Resilience and Security in the 21st Century,
hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council and ICLEI–Local Governments
for Sustainability USA at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
“We cannot afford to continue to respond to disasters and deal with the consequences under the current model,” said Fugate. “Risk that is not mitigated, that is not considered in return on investment calculations, will often set up false economies. We will reach a point where we can no longer subsidize this.”
The central theme of the Speaker Series was the need for greater resilience in the United States, especially as we face the impacts of a changing climate. As flooding, severe storms and drought become much more common, communities must have better planning and prevention strategies to mitigate disaster. The work begins at the local level with better building codes, standards, and zoning plans, as well as community-wide or even regional climate adaptation and resilience plans.
“A resilient community is a strong community
that can bounce back from challenges,” said Michael Schmitz, Executive
Director of ICLEI USA. “It is a prepared community, able to protect it
citizens and economic assets from extreme weather. It is energy
independent in the face of rising energy costs and uncertainty; and it
is economically strong and diverse because it attracts new business by
offering a good quality of life.”
To underscore the power of resilient communities and resilient buildings, the Speaker Series also featured the launch of a landmark joint report by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. The report, Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions, examines how green buildings advance resiliency by helping us incorporating building strategies that better mitigate, plan and prepare for future climatic conditions. It describes potential adaptive strategies available to green building practitioners.
“The resiliency agenda is an action agenda – a forward-thinking agenda,” said Jason Hartke, Vice President of National Policy at the U.S. Green Building Council and co-founder of the Resiliency Series with ICLEI USA. “With resiliency, we accept our vulnerability, but we refuse to be paralyzed by its veil of uncertainty…At its core, resiliency is about replacing pessimism with optimism; exchanging surprise for readiness; expediency for planning.”