Disaster response and recovery is a complex and costly operation. Disaster response and property restoration firms, the insurance industry, architects and builders, property owners, and representatives of government agencies and NGO’s have to work together on a process that is ultimately paid for by higher insurance premiums and taxes. While sustainability is not the first thing that comes to mind in the immediate wake of a disaster, the process of rebuilding offers an opportunity to hit the reset button and work towards a more sustainable future.

In 2016, fifteen weather events ranging from wildfires to winter storms caused over one billion dollars in damage in the United States. Disaster recovery is not an optional expense, but it is worth looking at how these billion dollars have been spent, and whether rebuilding a neighborhood or home exactly as it was before is a good investment. The Sustainable Disaster Response Council (SDRC) was founded in early 2016 with the aim of turning property loss after a natural disaster into an opportunity.

One of the stated goals of the SDRC is to develop a certification, both for the actual disaster response and for a more holistic view of a building’s entire life cycle. The organization also offers education opportunities for those in the industry and other partners, as well as funding and fostering research and advocacy.

A sustainable approach to rebuilding after a disaster offers insurers the opportunity to turn a claim into an investment in the future, and property owners to reap the benefits of future energy saving. As we have covered on this blog many times, green building is good for public health, the economy, and the environment.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) joined the SDRC as a founding member. In addition to the USGBC’s interest in promoting green building practices in disaster recovery, the partnership between the USGBC and SDRC offers an opportunity for LEED buildings to continue to divert construction debris from landfills.

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