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Planning for resilient design: Investors, building designers and educators are taking note

The Resilient Design Institute defines resilience as “the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance. It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.”

Resilient design: example of flooding

There’s no question with the influx of wildfires, storms and flooding that buildings and communities of today need to adapt to the reality of our changing environment. With our increasingly urbanized populations, problems compound as a single disaster can affect a much larger group in these concentrated areas.

Due to the country’s widely varying climates, political environments and environmental threats, there isn’t a one-sized-fits-all approach to resilient design solutions. Considerations such as extended power or water loss, flood plains, and frequency of earthquakes are just a handful of the items that must be taken into account.

In response to this, USGBC has recently announced a renewal of its LEED Resilient Design pilot credits. This update to credits originally offered in 2015 shows how resilient design strategies have evolved in A short period of time.

The three pilot credits are:

  • Assessment and Planning for Resilience (IPpc98): This credit encourages project teams to determine potential vulnerabilities at the project location. With recent revisions to the credit, risks that must be considered as part of this credit now include sea level rise, extreme heat and more intense winter storms. To earn the credit, project teams must identify risks related to the effects of climate change (this consideration was previously considered optional).
  • Designing for Enhanced Resilience (IPpc99): This credit ensures that the risk-related information collected as mandated by credit IPpc98 is taken into account via mitigation measures. Originally, this credit required the top three hazards to be addressed in turn for one point. The revised credit states that project teams must address either one or two of the top hazards, with one point available for each. This tiered approach allows teams to earn acknowledgement for mitigating multiple types of risks.
  • Passive Survivability and Back-Up Power During Disruptions (IPpc100): This credit centers around the concept that buildings should be able to safely shelter occupants during a power outage, as well as be able to provide back-up power. Originally, this credit also addressed access to potable water, but that path has been rewritten as an option for one of the compliance paths.

Educational institutions are also recognizing the need develop this knowledge among budding design professionals. A Master of Professional Science in Urban Sustainability and Resilience course will be offered by the University of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Architecture this fall. Four required core courses will be offered, which include Introduction to Resilient Community Design, Sustainable Cities, Urban Design and Theory, and Urban Management. Following the core courses, students will choose between two preferred tracks: Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability.

Investors are also taking note. The costs of risks associated with climate change can include lost tenants, insurance rate hikes and loss of financing. Treating risks simply as insurance issues has become a thing of the past, and planning must now be put into place to assess resiliency risks and take actions to mitigate them.

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