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Buildings constructed today are likely to dictate city and town development and consumption patterns for decades to come. Buildings consume more energy than any other sector. Moreover, they play an important role in protecting people from natural and manmade hazards. Therefore, buildings are one of the logical points to start building sustainable cities: cities that are resilient, environmentally sound, economically productive and socially inclusive.

The planning, design, construction and operation of buildings are governed by building codes. These contain regulations that specify what type of materials and techniques one is allowed to use when designing and constructing a building. Not all countries in Asia and the Pacific have a building code, and countries that do have a code often struggle with low compliance rates. Improving building code quality and enforcement could help cities improve their environmental sustainability and disaster resilience.

To address this issue, ESCAP has partnered with the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) to assess the current status of integration of disaster resilience and environmental sustainability in building codes in the Asia-Pacific region and to document a series of good practices, showing a range of incentives for building code stakeholders in this region to further integrate these elements in their work. The draft output of this research were discussed during an Expert Group Meeting, held in Bangkok, Thailand on 26 and 27 April 2012.

This publication summarizes the main conclusions of the research and of the discussions held at the Expert Group Meeting.The research on building code formulation comprised an analysis of nine building codes within and outside the Asia-Pacific region. Four reference countries were selected: USA (California), Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom. The building codes of these countries/regions were analyzed for lessons to be learned for Asia and the Pacific. The five target countries that were selected are Thailand, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. All building codes were analyzed for six elements of environmental sustainability (material conservation; energy conservation; water conservation; soil/land conservation; solid waste reduction; air pollution control) and six elements of disaster resilience (wind loads; snow loads; seismic effects; rain/flood resistance; wildfire; landslide resistance).

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