By Josephine Fuller, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – A study by Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center in the Institute of Water and Environment, which was first published in June, may lead to updated building codes that take the inevitable rising sea levels into account.
The study was sponsored by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Florida Building Commission and is important because current building codes don’t take the future of sea level rise into consideration.
Jayantha Obeysekera, director of the Sea Level Solutions Center and associate director of the Institute of Water and Environment said in an interview “We recommend some potential changes that should be incorporated into future planning, [we] go through the building codes and identify on this new research where the code itself should be modified.”
Research was conducted in Miami-Dade County and models looked fifty years into the future to gauge potential implications for building codes. Rain loads on buildings, potential flooding levels and the impact of rising water tables on infrastructure were all studied.
The study showed that sea level rise can cause saltwater to push freshwater upwards through the ground harming infrastructure. Due to this, the report says that elevating buildings by one to two feet will be necessary for the future.
Tiffany Troxler, associate director of science for the FIU Sea Rise Solutions Center and co-author of the report told the Miami Herald, “The building code doesn’t currently take sea level rise into account.”
Adding, “One recommendation was simply to try to account for that uncertainty that we cannot currently account for, including sea level rise, to add one foot to the elevations that are already recommended.”
According to the project’s case study, the cost of elevating buildings may be prohibitive, and suggested retrofitting older buildings with things like remodeling the first floor for parking and keeping the rest of the building open.
In other cases, the research showed that raising the crown-elevation on roads, using salt-water resistant building materials, and elevating appliances and electrical boxes could also prove helpful.