We talk about “mitigation” everyday here at Green Hybrid Habitats, especially where it concerns FEMA guidelines on community disaster mitigation preparation, but what exactly does (or should) “mitigation” mean to a homebuyer?
It might help to think about mitigation this way:
- We save money in our working years to mitigate cash concerns in our retirement years.
- We wear our seatbelts in the car to mitigate injury in the event of a crash.
- We try to eat well, sleep enough, and exercise regularly to mitigate health issues.
When it comes to “community disaster mitigation preparation”, we are talking about what communities can do – from governmental assistance to homeowner responsibility – to reduce the likelihood of severe damage, injury, or death from severe natural disaster events. Homebuilders are a part of the stakeholder group of every American community, and as such they have an important role to play in mitigating destruction caused by hurricanes, floods, fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes.
Generally speaking, builders over the years have done just enough to meet local building codes to keep their projects under budget and lawful, but not enough have gone the extra step to exceed those codes to build the safest, healthiest, most structurally sound homes, ones that are fortified against severe storms, fires, and earthquakes, because it is the right thing to do in a world of increasingly violent and damaging natural events. This is partially the fault of building codes that have not been updated as frequently as needed to ensure new homes are capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds and “100-year” floods that seem to be happening almost yearly now around the country.
But although codes are there to be met, there is no law that prevents builders from exceeding those codes in terms of fortification for high winds, elevation above flood lines, and durability against fires. It’s like that aphorism we hear all the time, that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. Well, it’s certainly true when it comes to residential home-building; we continue to build en masse only to the standards as they are written and not to the unwritten conditions that pound our communities so often, causing billions of dollars in structural damage every year and far too many severe injuries and deaths.
We at GHH believe that building codes AND builders must improve to mitigate the negative effects of natural disasters in our communities. By building stronger and smarter, we can have healthier, fortified, and sustainable homes that will last a lifetime regardless of what the natural world throws at them.
This just makes sense.
Instead of rebuilding all the time using the same materials as before and to the same ineffective codes, we should be building to exceed those codes at every opportunity.
Green Hybrid Habitats is doing just that. Every single one of our homes is built to exceed FEMA standards for community disaster mitigation. We want our homebuyers to not just feel safer and healthier but to actually BE safer and healthier throughout the lifetime of their home.
This should be the expectation of every builder and of every homebuyer. As a nation of communities, we must all commit to improving the health, safety, and security of our citizens, and building healthier, safer, more secure housing is one way to meet that obligation.