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The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is praising the Congressional passage of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA) as part of H.R. 302, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bill will now go to the president’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.

The DRRA represents significant improvements in U.S. disaster policy and paves the way for communities to better utilize architects during disaster recovery efforts, namely through AIA components’ administration of AIA’s Safety Assessment Program (SAP). The bill also provides states with access to an enhanced, on-budget pre-disaster mitigation fund for projects and activities that have a measurable reduction of risk, and focus recovery dollars towards resilient building code adoption and enforcement. The new Pre-Disaster Mitigation account, funded from 6% of the annual disaster spending, provides new resources for states and communities to invest in preventative measures. The estimated $1 billion in pre-disaster assistance is to be used towards building code development, the latest hazard-resistant designs, and to establish minimum acceptable criteria for the design, construction, and maintenance of residential structures and facilities.

The bill, which includes AIA authored language, requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), architects and engineers to co-develop standardized best practices for building-safety assessments that focus on a building’s structural integrity and livability following a disaster.

“Architects understand all aspects of the buildings that make up our communities,” said 2018 AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA. “After a disaster strikes, architects play a critical role in conducting building-safety assessments, which help people to return to their homes and businesses to reopen their doors more quickly. This legislation is critical as it allows architects to improve the quality of building-safety assessments and enhance the resiliency of our communities.”

Since 1972, AIA and its thousands of architect volunteers nationwide have been assisting communities in their recovery from disasters through AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program which includes SAP. For additional resources, including a Disaster Assistance Handbook and information on related programs, visit AIA’s Disaster Assistance Program homepage. TxA is also hosting an all-day Safety Assessment Program Training workshop at the 79th Annual Conference & Design Expo in Fort Worth on Thursday, November 4, with Nicole Joslin, AIA of the Austin Community Design and Development Center. For more information click here.


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