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Climate Change vs Codes

Aaron Fisher | June 14, 2024

Wanted to bring attention of my network to this interesting article that came across my desk: Code compliance not enough to protect builders from lawsuits. This would be a massive shift in design and construction. Compliance with the code has historically offered a level of legal protection for engineers and contractors. For most, not getting sued is a big motivator.

With climate change becoming as prominent as it has this could present problems satisfying the legal standard of “reasonable care”.  As experts in construction it is expected that engineers and contractors consider foreseeable conditions. It is reasonable to argue that with a lot of publicly available data on climate change and with experience in severe weather events this could be considered foreseeable, and thus should impact design.

And while this hasn’t historically been itself a consideration, insurance has. While premium often escalate due to inflation and the cost of replacement, they are also a function of the likelihood of having a problem– it’s more expensive to insure an event that has a 5% chance over one that has 1% chance of happening.

A change in legal burden around construction would presage a lot of innovation. Simply put, moving folks out of the groove they have always been in is critical. Once inertia is overcome there is a lot of ideas that have been waiting in the wings that will make it into standard practice. This would be an exciting and uncertain future.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this; particularly my lawyer friends.

VP of Business DevelopmentAaron Fisher

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