Published: Oct. 25, 2023 By ,

The increasing frequency and size of wildfires across the U.S. motivates the growing need to identify how affected communities can rebuild sustainably and resiliently. This study examines the jurisdictional decision-making process surrounding one important class of sustainability and resiliency decisions, focusing on energy and wildfire building codes for housing reconstruction. Through 22 interviews with staff and elected officials in three jurisdictions impacted by Colorado's Marshall Fire, we identify factors influencing decisions. Code decisions varied across jurisdictions and, in some cases, building codes were relaxed, while in other cases, increased resiliency and sustainability standards were adopted after the fire. Jurisdictions with more experience had more certainty regarding code costs and effectiveness, leading to more stringent code adoption. Thus, findings encourage jurisdictions to create rebuilding plans pre-disaster to reduce the impact of uncertainty in post-disaster decision-making. The data also indicate that while local jurisdictions are well-suited to work cooperatively with homeowners impacted by disasters to return to the community, the state can play a role by informing or mandating disaster plans or establishing minimum code requirements.

Ellery, M., Javernick-Will, A., Liel, A., and K. Dickinson (2023). “Post-Fire Jurisdictional Decision-Making for Resiliency and Sustainability Outcomes”. Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability. 10.1088/2634-4505/ad02b8.