Budget provisions for disaster mitigation, L.A. City Council's measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and appraisal professional corps recruitment
Federal Budget Includes Disaster Mitigation Provisions
The U.S. Congress recently passed the Budget Act of 2018 that includes provisions to encourage states to adopt the latest building codes and invest in natural disaster mitigation. The bill’s Federal Cost Share Reform Incentive allows post-disaster federal cost-sharing with states to increase from 75% to as high as 85% on a sliding scale based on factors including the adoption and enforcement of the latest building codes; the adoption of a mitigation plan; and investments in disaster relief, insurance, and emergency management programs. The International Code Council and other code bodies hailed the development.
“This provision is a significant victory for the tax-paying public, as it will help reduce the burden of growing financial losses on the federal government and the states due to the increased frequency of natural disasters,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO.
FEMA Document Provides Simplified Seismic Design Provisions for Low-Hazard Regions
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a document to assist structural designers in meeting building code requirements for low seismic-hazard regions. The FEMA NEHRP document provides design guidance for ordinary SDC B buildings as denoted in ASCE/SEI 7. FEMA says its document will help designers to meet the code “without wading through the full, complex seismic design process in ASCE/SEI 7.”
Even in areas where seismic activity is low—Seismic Design Category (SDC) B—structural engineers must still complete a full seismic design process to meet building code requirements. Even in these regions, the risk of building damage or collapse is real.
A case in point is the 2011 Mineral, Va., earthquake that shook much of the East Coast and caused significant damage in areas close to the tremor’s origin.
L.A. City Council Adopts Measure to Dramatically Reduce GHG Emissions from Building Sector
The Los Angeles City Council recently adopted a measure intended to make steep reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commercial and residential buildings. The legislation aims to transition the city’s built environment from conventional natural gas to electricity generated from pollution-free sources like wind and solar. Renewables would eventually replace gas as space- and water-heating energy sources.
The Council’s action requires the city’s building department and utility to make recommendations to reduce building demand for natural gas, and shift gas use to pollution-free electricity. It also establishes aggressive 2028 and 2038 building electrification targets that meet or exceed the city’s climate goals, which include reducing GHG emissions by 60% before 2035.
Onsite burning of fossil fuels already accounts for over 40% of climate-warming emissions from buildings in California.
Number of HERS-rated Homes in 2017 Exceeds Homes Rated in 2016 by 21,000
Evidence that the HERS home energy efficiency rating system continues to gain favor is mounting. In 2017, the number of HERS-rated homes exceeded the number of homes rated in 2016 by 21,257.
Overall, 227,840 homes in the U.S. were HERS-rated and issued a HERS Index Score last year. The average HERS Index of these homes was 62. Climate Zone 3A and Texas led the way in the number of homes rated.
Aging of Appraisal Professional Corps Needs Attention
Nearly half of real estate appraisers in the U.S. are 51 to 65 years old, and 13% are 66 and older. That means many experienced appraisers are getting set to retire, and there are few younger people stepping in to fill the void.
The real estate industry needs to actively recruit and mentor younger professionals in order to avert a dire shortage of appraisers. To make progress in this effort, the industry could address regulatory burdens and licensing requirements of the appraisal profession through lobbying efforts.