Alec Wilson on house design in the era extreme weather / Working to Prevent Climate Change is No Longer Enough Oct 1, 5:42pm via oikos Working to prevent or slow down climate change should continue to be a
major focus of the building industry, but that is no longer enough, according to Alex Wilson and Andrea Ward in a new article in Environmental Building News (EBN). We also need to address how to adapt our buildings and communities to the impacts of those changes, which are already underway, they argue in a September 2009 feature article entitled, "Design for Adaptation: Living in a Climate-Changing World."
"Even if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions were to be somehow turned off tomorrow," Wilson points out, "warming temperatures, more intense storms, flooding and other impacts of climate change will continue--and we need to address that in our design practices."
The EBN article makes the case that climate change is not only happening, but it is happening at a more rapid rate than even the most pessimistic climate models predicted just a few years ago.
"The reality of climate change is unequivocal," according to Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., co-director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, who was quoted in the article. He and other experts interviewed for the article, including Stephen Schneider, Ph.D., of Stanford University, argue that adaptation to a changing climate is a high priority today.
The article describes 36 specific strategies for addressing adaptation to climate change, organized into five major headings. These headings and a sampling of the specific strategies are listed below:
Warmer temperatures
Design cooling-load-avoidance measures into buildings; Model energy performance with higher cooling design temperatures; Plan for termites extending their range to the north; Drought and water shortages
Plumb buildings for graywater separation; Plant native, climatically appropriate trees and other vegetation; More intense storms, flooding and rising sea levels
Expand stormwater management capacity and rely on natural systems; Design buildings to survive extreme winds; Specify materials that can survive flooding; Wildfire
Eliminate gutters or design and maintain them to minimize fire risk (for wildfire-prone areas); Avoid vented roofs or protect vents from ember entry (for wildfire- prone areas); Power interruptions
Design buildings to maintain passive survivability; Provide dual-mode operability with high-rise buildings; Plan and zone communities to maintain functionality without power. "We are fortunate," says Wilson, "that many of the strategies available for adapting to climate change offer other benefits, such as lower building operating costs, better environmental performance and improved durability."
The article argues that these strategies are also relatively straightforward and eminently doable. "It makes sense to incorporate these into our design palette today," concludes the article.
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