EERI releases updated white paper on functional recovery

EERI is pleased to release an updated white paper titled, "Functional Recovery: A Conceptual Framework with Policy Options," leading the earthquake risk reduction field in a new way of thinking about resilience and formulating responsive policy solutions.  

This version supersedes our white paper dated July 24, 2019, and includes two parts and a new executive summary. The first part contains the full language of the conceptual framework that was previously released, with a few slight revisions and updates. 

The new second part explores how legislatures and government agencies at the federal, state, and local level can develop or implement policies for functional recovery. The policy options vary in scale and focus, however, the white paper considers ideas for buildings and infrastructure, both new and existing. EERI recognizes that the normal processes for developing design standards can and should be used and that there are also interim options available to policymakers.

In this updated paper, EERI explores a diverse suite of policy possibilities organized into the following four categories:

  1. Legislation and regulations that require designing and planning for functional recovery, in addition to safety.
  2. Interim programs that encourage designing and planning for functional recovery.
  3. The development of technical consensus, specifically in the form of standards that set objective design criteria and planning strategies for achieving specified functional recovery times.
  4. The development of policy consensus, specifically in the form of building code provisions and infrastructure regulations that assign, with local customization, acceptable functional recovery times to buildings and lifeline infrastructure systems based on their role in supporting various community functions.

The paper will inform a new NIST-FEMA working group mandated by recent national legislation and others considering new functional recovery standards and practices. You can expect to hear more about this at the EERI Annual Meeting and National Earthquake Conference in March 2020.

Access the white paper here.

What does this mean for you?

We encourage you to read this updated white paper and reflect on how we can expand planning, design, and retrofit practices to ensure that buildings and lifeline infrastructure achieve timely restoration of service after future earthquakes. We invite you to join the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee (PPA) to develop possible supplemental background or commentary documents. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to express your interest in joining.


This white paper is in response to new language in the December 2018 reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). This language, suggested to Senator Diane Feinstein by EERI’s PPA in 2018 and passed in the final version of the bill, calls for FEMA and NIST to convene experts to recommend “options for improving the built environment and critical infrastructure to reflect performance goals stated in terms of post-earthquake reoccupancy and functional recovery time” (42 U.S.C. § 7705(b); 2018 Senate Bill 176).

With work by this governmentally-mandated expert committee underway, EERI’s PPA set about developing a white paper to outline a multidisciplinary perspective that

  1. Offers some background and definition of functional recovery in the context of community resilience;
  2. Identifies four key issue areas to be researched, developed, and discussed to clarify and refine this new performance target;
  3. Explores how the current state of practice can be applied to future functional recovery goals; and
  4. Suggests policy options for legislatures and government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels.