National Institute of Building Sciences Celebrates 50 Years of Service

Stephen T. Ayers

WASHINGTON, DC– 2024 marks five decades of significant contribution and service by the National Institute of Building Sciences to the U.S. built environment.

NIBS was officially established in August 1974, by the U.S. Congress in the Housing and Community Development Act, Public Law 93-383. At that time, Congress recognized the need for an organization to serve as an authoritative source supporting government and private sector building science research, code/standards development, and innovative technology integration.

“We are planning to celebrate this important milestone throughout the year,” said Stephen T. Ayers, Interim President & CEO. “This is our chance to honor the relationships we have formed, research we have developed, and stakeholders we continue to serve. Our work is far from over.”

Several special events are planned in 2024, including the release of a comprehensive 50th Anniversary Report, launch of new online resources reflecting NIBS achievements, and a Golden Anniversary celebration during Building Innovation 2024 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC in May.

In the late 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson launched a ‘War on Poverty’ that included the formation of the National Commission on Urban Problems to research U.S. housing and building development focusing on model codes, standards, zoning, and taxes. Two years later, the commission revealed a national labyrinth of building codes and standards lacking uniformity and modernization and identified the need for a national resource to provide solutions.

NIBS was established as that resource in 1974.

Some examples of NIBS contributions over the years include:

  • Supporting U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs and initiatives, producing guidelines and studies to promote energy-efficient homes, abatement of toxic materials, off-site construction solutions, and building rehabilitation criteria.
  • Coordinating the development and maintenance of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures for over 40 years through NIBS’ Building Seismic Safety Council under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • Serving as a trusted distributor and curator to the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal building specifications/criteria for over 40 years through the Construction Criteria Base (the first building industry electronic library produced on CD-ROM) and later through the Whole Building Design Guide (the first comprehensive online portal providing access to federal sector building criteria and subject matter expert authored resources).
  • Establishing the Multi-Hazard Mitigation Council through support from federal partners and industry volunteers that has produced numerous resources promoting resilience-based design to address the threats of climate change to our structures, including the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves study.