How to ensure building safety as Baby Boomers retire

by Brianna Crandall — May 10, 2017 — “Building Design Solutions for All Ages” is the theme for Week Two of the International Code Council’s (ICC) Building Safety Month — May 8-14, 2017. The International Code Council asks: “As Baby Boomers prepare to retire — will the built environment be ready for them?” Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows there are 76.4 million Baby Boomers, roughly one-quarter of the estimated U.S. population of 320 million.

Many Baby Boomers are nearing or entering their retirement years and are deciding what area they will live in when they retire. According to an AARP study, 89 percent of the 50-and-older population intend to remain in their current homes for as long as possible, but beyond this, the aging of the population will affect every interior environment — private, commercial and public.

ICC Board President Dwayne Garriss, Georgia State Fire Marshal, commented:

While many of us don’t like some aspects of growing old, sooner or later we give in to wearing glasses and maybe even hearing aids. Maybe we can’t run up those steps anymore and need ramps. Or we need better lighting and acoustics in restaurants or other businesses. The building community can help businesses adjust to an aging clientele, so we all can continue to enjoy the same things we always did.

According to the Code Council, issues on which the building industry will need to focus to accommodate an aging-in-place clientele include:

  • Making sure restaurants, stores, hotels and motels are accessible and can accommodate individuals using assistive devices;
  • Providing adequate lighting, seating, technology, task areas and quiet places for older workers in offices, retail stores and other work spaces
  • Meeting an increased need for outpatient and in-home care, and accommodation for caretakers and caregivers; and
  • Satisfying a growing demand for livable communities and urban complexes with easy access to health care, entertainment, shopping, etc.

Week One

Mentoring the Next Generation of Building Professionals” was the theme of the first week of Building Safety Month — May 1-7, 2017, building on ICC’s work toward the goal of preserving the industry’s workforce.

 According to ICC, the construction industry is experiencing a mass retirement of skilled building professionals; one study indicates that over the next 12 years, the industry will experience a loss of 80 percent of the existing skilled workforce. One would expect fairly high rates for facilities management professionals as well. Trained professionals are needed in the building industry to prevent a major job shortage in the workforce.

ICC Board of Directors President M. Dwayne Garriss, Georgia State Fire Marshal, said:

Retirements will affect building officials, fire code officials, plans examiners, permit technicians and administrative staff reviewing special inspection reports. Engineers and architects, as well — all these noble professions, which many people may not be aware of — are all necessary to maintain our high standards for building safety.


In addition to learning about construction, engineering and architecture, the future workforce needs to become knowledgeable about the building codes to ensure the very best, most-resilient buildings, points out ICC. The Code Council and industry partners are providing training and mentoring on the latest design, technology and innovations in the codes through high schools, colleges and career training programs, as well as providing an array of resources and information.

Established by the ICC in 1980, Building Safety Month has been an annual public safety awareness campaign to help individuals, families and businesses understand what it takes to create safe and sustainable structures. Jurisdictions nationwide plan BSM events.