Building Codes & Principles

Hazard Mitigation Building Codes, Laws, Regulations & Policies

The following documents provide guidance on the hazard-resistant provisions in the building codes for property owners, engineers and design professionals, building codes officials, and the general public.

These resources are divided by natural hazard and address earthquake, flood, and wind.

Access FEMA’s free building code resources for all hazards at

Reducing Flood Losses Through the International Codes: Coordinating Building Codes and Floodplain Management Regulations, 5th Edition

October 18, 2019

Developed by the International Code Council and FEMA, this guide helps state and local officials integrate the International Codes® (I-Codes®) into their current floodplain management regulatory processes related to structures, buildings, and other development to satisfy the requirements to participate in the NFIP.  FEMA considers the latest editions of the I-Codes to be the minimum standards for hazard resistance, including flood hazards, high winds, and earthquake hazards.

  • Chapter 2 describes three approaches for coordinating the I-Codes and local floodplain management regulations and identifies several advantages and considerations when relying on the flood provisions of the codes.
  • Chapter 3 explains several differences between the NFIP regulations and the I-Code requirements related to specific terminology and provisions. Many requirements in the codes exceed NFIP minimum requirements, and some provisions are more specific than the NFIP, especially in the International Building Code®, which references ASCE 24, Flood Resistant Design and Construction.
  • Chapter 4 contains questions that states and communities should answer to know whether and how to modify existing floodplain management regulations to coordinate with building codes.
  • Chapter 5 describes modifications that can be adopted to incorporate higher standards in State and local building codes that are based on the I-Codes to further increase building and community resilience to flood damage.
  • Chapter 6 introduces the model code-coordinated ordinances prepared by FEMA. The model ordinances are available at:
  • Appendix A lists cited references and other resources that are useful for understanding and interpreting the requirements of the NFIP.
  • Appendix B provides sample checklists for a plan review and inspection.

Link to Reducing Flood Losses through the International Codes

Quick Reference Guide: Comparison of Select NFIP and 2018 I-Code Requirements for Special Flood Hazard Areas

October 30, 2018

The updated Quick Reference Guide illustrates the similarities and highlights the differences between the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements and the requirements of the 2018 International Codes® (I-Codes®) and ASCE 24-14, Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE 24), a standard referenced by the I-Codes.

The illustrations highlight some of the key similarities and differences between foundation types, lowest floor elevations, enclosures below elevated buildings, and utilities requirements of the NFIP and I-Codes for most residential, commercial and industrial buildings (classified as “Flood Design Class 2”).

Building Codes for Mitigation: Using ASCE 24

January 25, 2018

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Division delivered a webinar to share information on the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) 24 Building Codes for Mitigation.  Presenters provided information on ASCE 24 flood-specific building code requirements as they relate to HMA, including information about mitigation projects such as elevations, floodproofing, and mitigation reconstruction.

Participants who would find value in this webinar include floodplain administrators, city and building code officials, insurance adjusters, and others who have an interest in understanding and applying ASCE 24 requirements.

Link to for more information.

Flood Resistant Provisions of the International Codes®

(2018 Edition, 2015 Edition, 2012 Edition, 2009 Edition)

These documents are compilations of flood resistant provisions, prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), of the I-Codes (IBC, IRC, IEBC, IMC, IPC, IFGC, IFC, ISPSC, IPSDC, ICC-PC).  Also included, as separate documents, are summaries of changes from the previous editions.  The 2018, 2015, 2012, and 2009 editions of the I-Codes contain provisions that meet or exceed the minimum flood-resistant design and construction requirements of the NFIP for buildings and structures.  FEMA and States use a standard checklist when reviewing local floodplain management regulations/ordinances to determine whether such regulations and ordinances are complete for the purpose of participating in the NFIP.  The checklists for the I-Codes may also be used to guide floodplain managers, building officials and designers as they compare the flood provisions of the 2015 I-Codes and ASCE 24-14 to the minimum requirements of the NFIP.  See link below for Highlights of ASCE 24 (ASCE 24 is a referenced standard in the 2015 IBC and IRC).

Highlights of ASCE 24 Flood Resistant Design and Construction 

The ASCE maintains ASCE 24, a referenced standard in the I-Codes.  ASCE 24-14 is referenced in the 2015 International Building Code® (IBC) and the 2015 International Residential Code® (IRC).  ASCE 24-05 is referenced in the 2012, 2009, and 2006 IBC and IRC.  Buildings and structures within the scope of the IBC proposed to be constructed in flood hazard areas must be designed in accordance with ASCE 24.  The IRC requires dwellings in floodways to be designed in accordance with ASCE 24 and permits use of ASCE 24.  The 2015 IRC permits use of ASCE 24 for dwellings in any flood zone, while earlier editions permit its use in Zone V and Coastal A Zones.  The requirements of ASCE 24 meet or exceed the NFIP requirements for buildings and structures in special flood hazard areas.  Separate documents summarizing ASCE 24-05 and ASCE 24-14 include the following topics: Building Performance; Flood-Damage Resistant Materials; Utilities and Service Equipment; and Siting Considerations.

Guidance for Applying ASCE 24 Engineering Standards to HMA Flood Retrofitting and Reconstruction Projects

This ASCE 24 HMA Guidance was prepared by the FEMA to assist local governments, designers, and property owners.  It identifies key design and construction requirements in the ASCE Structural Engineering Institute’s ASCE/SEI 24-05, Flood-Resistant Design, and Construction (ASCE 24) that apply to HMA flood mitigation grant projects.  This document is in no way intended to be used in place of ASCE 24 but rather as a companion to the standard.  Designers, local officials, and others who want to apply the standard still need to refer to the standard for complete requirements.

The guidance does not advocate construction in the floodplain; rather, it is intended to reduce hazard risk for situations in which there is no practicable alternative.  The emphasis of this document is on mitigation if construction in the floodplain is not avoidable, although the best way to greatly reduce (if not eliminate) flood risk is to relocate a structure out of the floodplain.  The term “must” is used in the context of the ASCE 24 design standard to indicate compliance to applicable criteria within ASCE 24.

Understanding Substantial Damage in the International Existing Building Code

April 26, 2017

This document will help you understand how the concept of Substantial Structural Damage (SSD) is used within the International Existing Building Code® (IEBC®).  FEMA’s Public Assistance Required Minimum Standards Policy found in the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, Chapter 2 – Section VII.B.2,1 (Policy) requires that projects receiving FEMA assistance for repair or replacement incorporate the natural hazards-related provisions of the most recent edition of the International Code Council’s® (ICC®) International Building Code® (IBC®), International Residential Code® (IRC®), and/or the IEBC.

The policy applies to buildings that have sustained any level of damage (including, possibly, SSD or Substantial Damage), as well as projects involving new construction, such as improved projects, alternate projects, or projects eligible for replacement in accordance with 44 CFR, Part 206.226(f).  The relevant code provisions include not only the design criteria for repair or replacement construction, but also those provisions that determine whether repair to the pre-damage condition is sufficient, or whether repair must be supplemented by improvement.

Download the PA_Job-Aid-Understanding_SSD_International-rev.

Link to Fact SheetUnderstanding Substantial Structural Damage in the International Existing Building Code


The following documents provide information concerning the wind-resistant provisions of the most recent editions of the International Building Code (IBC), International Existing Building Code (IEBC), and International Residential Code (IRC), and their referenced standards American Society of Civil Engineers / Structural Engineering Institute (ASCE/SEI) 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures and ICC 500 Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.

Wind Provisions in the 2015 International Building Code® (February 2017)

This document summarize the wind-resistant provisions of the 2015 edition of the IBC.

Wind Provisions in the 2015 International Existing Building Code® (February 2017)

This document summarize the wind-resistant provisions of the 2015 edition of the IEBC.

Wind Provisions in the 2015 International Residential Code® (February 2017)

This document summarize the wind-resistant provisions of the 2015 edition of the IRC.

2015 Uniform Codes by IAPMO and 2012 Uniform Codes by IAPMO

These documents contain Flood Resistant Provisions of the 2015 and 2012 editions of codes published by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officers (IAPMO): the Uniform Mechanical Code; Uniform Plumbing Code, Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa and Hot Tub Code and Uniform Solar Energy Code.

The Protecting Utility Systems from Flood Damage publication assists in rebuilding flood-damaged buildings with utility systems to quickly restore functionality in the event of future events.

EPA Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience – Changing Land Use and Building Codes and Policies to Prepare for Climate Change


Local governments are seeking ways to adapt to current and projected climate change impacts to better protect lives and property and ensure they can continue to offer a good quality of life and a thriving economy now and in the future.  Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience: Changing Land Use and Building Codes and Policies to Prepare for Climate Change (2017) can help local government officials, staff, and boards find strategies to prepare for climate change impacts through land use and building policies.The policy options described in this publication bring multiple short- and long-term environmental, economic, health, and societal benefits that can not only prepare a community and its residents and businesses for the impacts of climate change, but also improve everyday life.  The strategies can be worked into a community’s regular processes and policies—for example, through scheduled updates to zoning and building codes.  This approach allows incremental change, which might be easier for some communities because it costs little or nothing extra compared to “business as usual” and gives communities the opportunity to adjust codes based on the most up-to-date climate observations and projections.To help readers determine which policy and code changes might be appropriate for their community’s capacity, desire, and need to make changes, the options in each chapter are categorized as modest adjustments, major modifications, and wholesale changes.  What might be a modest adjustment for one town could be a major modification in another.  Because an important question to determine in building resilience is resilience of what to what, the publication is divided by impacts that communities are likely to face as the climate continues to change:

  • Chapter 2: Overcoming Barriers to Climate Adaptation discusses potential social and legal barriers.
  • Chapter 3: Overall Strategies discusses smart growth strategies that help adapt to multiple climate change impacts and that can be a foundation for the policies in subsequent chapters.
  • Chapter 4: Adapting to Flooding and Extreme Precipitation includes code and policy options that deal mainly with riverine flooding and managing stormwater to prevent flooding and water pollution.  This chapter includes green infrastructure strategies that can also help communities cope with extreme heat and other policy options that are relevant to sea level rise.
  • Chapter 6: Adapting to Extreme Heat discusses strategies to protect people from heat waves, including green building and energy efficiency.
  • Chapter 7: Adapting to Drought includes water conservation strategies for individual buildings as well as entire communities.
  • Chapter 8: Adapting to Wildfire focuses on smart growth and green building strategies to protect neighborhoods from fire damage.

Most chapters include quick tips called “practice pointers,” examples of communities implementing the policies, resources, and a “Guidance and Metrics” section that references relevant credit summary language and metrics from up to three community-scale sustainability rating systems.

More Information:

Smart Growth Fixes for Climate Adaptation and Resilience is based on the model of two previous publications that give local governments specific changes they can consider to get the type of development they want:

CodeMaster for Flood Resistant Design

(2011, 2015)

The CodeMaster provides designers with an easy-to-use desk reference that identifies the flood provisions in the International Building Code® (IBC®) and International Residential Code® (IRC®), as well as the flood requirements of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards ASCE 7 and ASCE 24.  There are two versions of the Flood CodeMaster – one for the 2015 IBC and IRC, ASCE 7-10 and 24-14, the other for the 2009/2012 IBC and IRC, ASCE 7-05/7-10 and 24-05.

The CodeMaster is a unique and useful tool for designers to make sure that they incorporate the flood-resistant provisions of these codes and standards.  The 8-page guide provides sections on preliminary considerations and design process, key flood terminology, a 12-step process to incorporate flood resistance in the design of a building, an example showing the 12-step process being executed and information on additional FEMA mitigation resources related to flood-resistant design.  The document also uses illustrations to ensure a clear understanding for users in the professional community.

These guides can be purchased from the International Code Council.

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