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A Year in Review - the Future in Focus

By Alana Spencer, LEED AP BD+C
November 22, 2017

Climate changed. 2017 has been ravaged by increased and extreme occurrences of climate changed events. Hurricanes whipped through the Atlantic Ocean damaging and crippling all in its pathways, wildfires set ablaze to Western areas of the US, earthquakes rattled throughout the globe and the outcome was devastating to buildings, communities and regions.

For those of us in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industries it’s been apparent for some time but more important than ever to be proactive to push resiliency and climate adaptation in our design commissions. Integrative design and construction teams must be aware of the type of natural and human-made disasters that are most likely to occur in climate regions, account for longer-term climate change, and address risks.

Through climate analysis and readily available frameworks and tools, designing to resiliency and climate adaption is at our fingertips. Here are a few.

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC.org), has implemented integrative process pilot credits that address resiliency:

  • Assessment and Planning for Resilience: to complete a hazard assessment for the project site. This involves identifying the potential high risks associated with natural hazards that could affect the site.
  • Design for Enhanced Resilience: ensure that each of the top hazards identified in “Assessment and Planning for Resilience” are addressed through specific mitigation strategies.
  • Passive Survivability and Functionality During Emergencies: ensure that buildings will maintain reasonable functionality, in the event of an extended power outage or loss of heating fuel. 

A major step forward in the building design community came at Greenbuild 2018 in Boston, MA this year. GBCI (Green Business Certification Inc.) announced it partnership with the RELi Standard (c3livingdesign.org), which is focused on resilient design through an integrative process for developing next generation neighborhoods, buildings, homes and infrastructure. RELi enables a high performance resilient and regenerative design process for optimal results incorporating RELi requirements with LEED, 2030 Palette (2030palette.org), and Envision (sustainableinfrastructure.org/envision/) references.

Additionally, cities across the globe have identified and pledged commitment to resilient design through networks such as 100 Resilient Cities (100resilientcities.org). Facing head-on the challenges that climate change will present.

Best practices to delivering high performance resilient design: early integration of all consultants to align at the onset; initial climate analysis to determine the challenges of the project location; compile the design features that will combat those challenges in 15 year increments; determine what is achievable and the outcomes of not implementing measures; responsibilities with project schedule and regular checkpoints.

The future is in focus, and our actions have a major impact on the outcome. How will your actions impact the future?