Background

Buildings and developments in any geographic location can be subject to a wide variety of natural phenomena such as windstorms, floods, earthquakes, and other hazards. While the occurrence of some of these events cannot be precisely predicted, their impacts are well understood and can be managed effectively through a comprehensive program of hazard mitigation planning. Mitigation refers to measures that can reduce or eliminate the vulnerability of the built environment to hazards, whether natural or generated by human activity. The fundamental goal of mitigation is to minimise loss of life, property, and the function of services/systems due to disasters. Designing to resist any hazard(s) should always begin with comprehensive hazard/threat and risk assessments. This process includes identification of the hazards present in the location and an assessment of their potential impacts and effects on the built environment based on existing or anticipated vulnerabilities and potential losses.

Regardless of who is conducting the risk assessment, the fundamental process of identifying what can happen at a given location, how it can affect the built environment, and what the potential losses could be, remains essentially the same from one scenario to the next. Only after the overall risk is fully understood should mitigation measures be identified, prioritised, and implemented.

Basic principles underlying this process include:

  • The impacts of natural hazards and the costs of the disasters they cause will be reduced whether mitigation measures are implemented pre-disaster (preventively) or post-disaster (correctively). However, proactively integrating mitigation measures into new construction is always more economically feasible than retrofitting existing structures.
     
  • Risk reduction techniques should address as many applicable hazards as possible. This approach, known as multi-hazard mitigation, is the most cost-effective approach, maximises the protective effect of the mitigation measures implemented, and optimises multi-hazard design techniques with other building technologies. This process can also highlight if there are any potential clashes between the mitigative strategies required (i.e. making a building resilient to floods may not necessarily be congruent with the measures required to make a building resilient to terrorist attacks).
     
  • All mitigation is local. Most mitigation measures, whether structural or regulatory, fall under the jurisdiction of local government. Additionally, mitigation initiatives are most effective when they involve the full participation of local stakeholders.
     

Please click here to download a one-page flowchart illustrating the PRE-EMPT for Projects process.

The PRE-EMPT for Projects User Guide can also be downloaded here.