Building code economic performance under variable wind risk
As losses from natural disasters steadily increase, communities search for ways to increase resilience. Northern Australia strengthened their wind codes in 1980 after Tropical Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin and recommendations from engineers in Queensland, Australia suggest further enhancements. Florida, United States Of America (US) also enacted stronger building codes after the devastation brought by Hurricane Andrew as a way to limit future windstorm losses. This study uses the case study of Florida to develop understanding of the economic effectiveness of wind-enhanced building codes across regions of varying wind risk. Realized insured loss data are used to examine the effect of the Florida Building Code (FBC) on windstorm losses. Further, we analyze the effectiveness of the FBC in different regions within the state. We find that overall the FBC passes a benefit/cost test with the exception of the use of a higher cost option for impact protection. Our results suggest that wind code changes in other regions, such as those recommended for the Australian wind code, would also be cost-effective. Finally, potential changes in wind speed from hurricanes due to climate change increase the cost-effectiveness of actions that mitigate the damage from wind storms.
KeywordsBenefit/cost Building codes
The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Insurance Services Office, the Florida Department of Emergency Management, and Florida International University for the data and research support. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
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