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ICC explains ways to maintain building safety while combating climate change

The recent rains in the GCC highlight need for better safety systems. (Image source: Canva)


In April 2024, the UAE witnessed its most significant rainfall in 75 years, catching many developers unprepared for its impact on the built environment and surrounding infrastructure

To mitigate such risks, developers must give priority to climate risk assessment, expedite climate action, and invest in adaptation mechanisms, alongside the adoption of new building materials and techniques.

Mitigating risk with building codes

The International Building Codes (I-Codes) set forth minimum safety requirements for construction, covering structural integrity, fire safety, and mechanical, plumbing, and electrical design.

These codes address indoor air quality, building materials safety, and structural design, among other aspects. For instance, the International Plumbing Code (IPC) and International Private Sewage Disposal Code (IPSDC) ensure the safety and health of occupants and the public. Similarly, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and International Green Construction Code (IgCC) promote energy-efficient standards and the development of high-performance buildings.

Sustainability and innovation

Within ICC-ES, the product certification arm of ICC, a range of services uplift best practices in sustainability and innovation. Evaluation Service Reports (ESRs) guide manufacturers in introducing new and innovative products, ensuring compliance with stringent safety criteria.
ICC-ES collaborates with International Standards Development Organisations (SDOs) and industry stakeholders on decarbonisation initiatives.

This includes developing acceptance criteria for eco-friendly cement, advancing sustainability efforts in construction.
ICC-ES also develops standards addressing greenhouse gas emissions across a building's lifecycle, from design to ongoing operations.

By integrating sustainability into every stage of a building's development, ICC-ES drives positive change towards a more sustainable built environment.

Looking ahead

As extreme weather becomes more common, the MENA region faces significant shifts in climate patterns. Forecasts predict prolonged heatwaves and droughts in summer, alongside intense winter rainfall.

Robust building codes, standards, product compliance measures, and accreditation systems are essential to navigating these challenges effectively. They play a crucial role in overcoming economic, social, and environmental barriers, ensuring infrastructure and communities remain resilient.


As part of the Buildings Breakthrough target, ICC leads a new initiative titled 'Building Capacity for Sustainable and Resilient Buildings.'

This initiative involves developing a comprehensive capacity-building toolkit freely accessible to Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJs) worldwide. The toolkit serves as a resource for enhancing the building safety regulatory framework.

ICC is also an active member of the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, addressing buildings' alignment with carbon neutrality goals by 2050. As co-chair of the Adaptation Working Group of GlobalABC, ICC collaborates with members to elevate adaptation's importance through tools and capacity-building initiatives.