Momentum Continues on Disaster Recovery Construction Specialist Initiative

In 2015 a three-day Development and Research Planning Forum at the American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington launched a three-part Disaster Recovery Construction Specialist Initiative. Convened by Green Advantage, the International Code Council (ICC), and Antioch University New England Center for Academic Innovation, the leaders gathered agreed that construction personnel perform a critical role in the wake of catastrophes. Their knowledge, skills, and abilities are essential to community reconstruction. Moreover, it is important that their work utilize sustainable construction techniques to ensure the performance, safety, and long-term cost-effectiveness of building recovery.

In addition to significant progress made toward the development of a proof of concept for a Disaster Recovery Construction Specialist, greater clarity was achieved related to developing a computer-simulated platform with gaming features for the certification, as well as development of an app that would enhance information dissemination and provide a user-engaging mechanism with gaming features for verifying and archiving delivery of best practices through photography. Further, it was acknowledged that these latter two aspects of the initiative — the computer-simulated platform with gaming features for the certification and development of the app — could have application to the construction industry in general.

Thanks to these advocates launching the initiative, additional advances continue to move its three parts toward the goal line. Examples of these activities include:

  • Letters of support from leaders such as Denis Hayes and Bryan Koon.

“As founder of the global Earth Day Network, former director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and developer of the world’s largest ‘living building’ (the Bullitt Center), I am very pleased to support the development of a Disaster Recovery Construction Specialist Certification that meets ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 requirements…..The existing plans for this certification aim to apply it in the U.S. and Canada, but every country could benefit from such initiatives…..If human habitats are to be resilient in the face of catastrophic events, we must cultivate foresight, preparation, and competent disaster response. Construction personnel perform a critical role in the aftermath of disasters. Their knowledge, skills, and labor are the raw materials of community reconstruction…..I wholeheartedly support the pursuit of public or private funds to develop this worthwhile certification. Once it achieves ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation I would urge states, provinces, and other jurisdictions to adopt and utilize it.”

“In my roles as the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, President of the National Emergency Management Association, and Vice-Chairman of the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council of the National  Institute of Building Sciences, I recognize the importance of a well-constructed built environment on protecting the lives and property of Americans in the aftermath of a disaster. I have seen firsthand the results of strong, well-enforced building codes and modern building techniques…..The development of this certification that meets the rigorous ANSI/ISO/IEC standards would provide an excellent screening device for states and jurisdictions to improve construction results and protect the public. Moreover, it could be used to help rebuild local economies that are impacted by disasters by enabling the prioritization of the use of qualified construction personnel who live and work in closer proximity to disaster stricken areas.”

  • Development of a cadre of university and college leaders who are helping to shape the initiative and participate in the search for funding. Participants include:

Charles Kibert, Holland Professor, School of Construction Management, University of Florida, and Director of the Powell Center for Construction and the Environment

Daniel Castro, Professor and Chair of the School of Building Construction, Georgia Institute of Technology
Stuart Brodsky, Director of Sustainable Real Estate, NYU; founder, Energy Star for Commercial Properties

  • Collaboration with the National Hispanic Construction Association (NHCA) in pursuing funding. Today, Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the construction industry workforce in the US. In the wake of Katrina during the emergency and restoration period about half of the construction workers were Hispanic; half of these were undocumented workers. These individuals faced harsh and dangerous working conditions that for many were compounded by labor abuses on the job and criminal victimization off the job.

John Martinez, Chair of the National Hispanic Construction Association


  • Expert guidance in the development of the computer simulated certification exam platform and app:

Michelle Fox, former Chief Strategist Education and Workforce Development Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy
If you wish to volunteer your energies or you have contacts with individuals or groups who might wish to help this worthy initiative succeed, please contact Grady O’Rear, President/CEO at or 540-822-9449 Ext 201.