Weak building codes no match for recent natural disasters, say industry experts

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Floods and wildfires in Alberta have caused billions of dollars in damage over the last few years.

August 22, 2016

Wildfire in Alberta in May, 2016. Photo: Premier of Alberta/Creative Commons.

A group of construction industry experts that met in Calgary, Alberta called for more disaster-resilient infrastructure, citing recent floods and wildfires in Alberta. The province experienced two of the worst natural disasters in its history in recent years. In 2013, a flood ravaged southern Alberta, and fires struck the area around Fort McMurray earlier this year. Both events caused billions of dollars of damage. 

Weak building codes are resulting in major losses, said Aris Papadopoulos, founder and chair of the Resilience Action Fund. Current codes rely on providing rapid escapes for people to exit buildings. Stronger codes that prevent buildings from being destroyed can be cost effective, according to Papadopoulos.

About 2,000 homes will need to be rebuilt in Fort McMurray.  One speaker pointed out the need for disaster-resilient homes as a key feature of the rebuilding effort. 

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