Building Resiliency in Homes

Building for resiliency is a good thing. It allows us to bounce back when life knocks us down. It’s often what separates those who succeed from those who do not.

In the design, infrastructure and community planning industries, resiliency has become a hot topic and a growing trend. This is especially true in light of the negative impact of recent natural disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy which killed 117 people and the $50 billion in damages effecting 24 states.

But what is building resilience, specifically and why has it become essential to the green building process? Let’s examine that now.

What Is Building Resilience?

Whereas sustainability protects the environment from human impact, resilience safeguards humans and their endeavors against the forces of nature and unavoidable circumstances.

Specifically, resilience building (and climate resilience) anticipates and plans for future vulnerabilities due to air quality, fire, insects, temperature, precipitation and changing coastlines.

What Are Specific Building Resilience Strategies?

Although building resilience is a multi-layered, ever-evolving methodology, here are some of the many goals in construction and systems design:

  • Design/build/renovate buildings to handle impact from climate warming such as severe storms, flooding, and wildfires, using future climatic conditions – not outdated data
  • Build sturdy structures with windows, finishes and other details designed to stand up and better respond to hurricane-force winds and extreme precipitation
  • Build structures that can sustain adequate living conditions for an extended period of time due to power loss by relying on passive HVAC systems and reducing energy loads
  • Avoid overly-complex systems and controls that allow for manual over-rides, or build so control systems aren’t required
  • Provide redundant water supplies that have hand-powered or gravity-feed delivery systems
  • Have redundant electric systems powered by solar-electric systems or fuel-fired electric generators
  • Look for alternate human waste systems such as waterless or composting toilets

How to minimize storm damage when building a home

Building Resilience Is The Future

We have witnessed how crucial preparation and foresight is in response to natural disasters. Building resilience adds the necessary element of life-safety to green building, completing the circle of protection between environment and human .

Many people are starting to consider resiliency in their housing needs, in fact the Seattle region is one of the most favorable locations and climates for these concerns. That being said, we are starting to experience climate change in the Northwest as well. Doesn’t it make sense to build homes not only for now, but ones that will last 100’s of years? Old proven concepts and new technology both play a role in these homes, don’t be surprised to see a root cellar with high tech pumps and controls in these.

Learn more about resilient design at the Resilient Design Institute.

Look for my upcoming Green Home Tours to learn more about this aspect of Green Real Estate and Resiliency in home building.

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This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.