Federal Construction Must Now Address Flood Risks From Climate Change

Climate change may be a controversial subject for some, but the federal government has taken steps to ensure that flood risks from climate change are addressed in new federal construction projects. In late January 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order requiring federal construction projects to take into account the possibility of floods caused by climate change.

construction projectThe executive order requires that most new federal construction projects be built two feet above the elevation that’s currently projected to protect buildings from floods over the next 100 years.

Buildings with a more critical role in the local community, such as evacuation centers or local institutions that house vulnerable populations, such as hospitals, must be built at three feet above the 100-year flood level or at the current 500-year flood level. Any variations from these requirements must be fully supported by data derived from the best available climate science.

Flood damage has increased in recent years, with disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and its effect on New Orleans showing how flooding and storm-related effects can devastate a coastal region. Numerous scientific reports have indicated the likelihood of more flooding and stronger storms in the coming years.

The recent executive order is aimed at creating new federal construction projects that are already situated in spaces that have better chances of reduced flood damage or of avoiding flooding altogether. As a result, some areas of land with lower elevations have become unsuitable for federal construction projects.

Federal buildings and facilities are not the only types of projects that could be affected by this executive order. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure construction could be geographically limited or, in lower elevations, prohibited entirely.

Construction Monitor helps managers, owners and builders keep track of the latest developments in the construction industry, including regulatory changes than affect how projects are built. Contact us today for more information on changes and new requirements for professionals working with federal construction projects.

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