Building codes offer a fundamental baseline of protection in architecture, requiring that buildings be designed and constructed to ensure minimum health and safety standards. Developed over centuries with the primary goal of protecting human settlements from the spread of fire, building codes have a proven track record of success. This demonstrated benefit is particularly important today, given the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters.

Despite advantages at the local scale, building codes may be contributing to the fragility of the built environment as a whole. According to architect Aleksandra Jaeschke, today's codes exhibit particular economic and technological biases that undermine the broader pursuit of systemic environmental performance. In The Greening of America's Building Codes: Promises and Paradoxes (Princeton Architectural Press, 2022), Jaeschke reveals how our current residential codes and sustainable design standards limit progress toward the attainment of environmental health, safety, and welfare at a planetary scale—and, therefore, must be fundamentally reconceived.

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