ClearWorld November 2017 - Page 10

Hurricanes, flooding droughts, wildfires, landslides and terrorism. These are the issues we’ll be addressing next in green design — if you buy into the theory that the U.S. Green Building Council’s ubiquitous LEED program helps predict future trends. Past LEED pilot credits have revealed issues we’ve neglected, such as water, transit, acoustics, ergonomics and lighting pollution. Looking at LEED pilot credits as if they were a crystal ball, we can see in them larger trends in the future of design — for example, moving toward a greater emphasis on health and comfort, or a growing interest in site and community.

We know buildings play a significant role in climate change, which is causing more disasters and conflicts. And as world leaders met in Paris in December to address global carbon emissions, they also addressed resilience. While we challenge ourselves to stop climate change, we are also faced with how to protect ourselves, how to be resilient, in the face of disasters already arriving. "We must have resilience as a main objective when we talk about climate change," Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, minister of environment in Peru, told the delegates at COP21.

Seeking survival options

Alex Wilson, who heads up the Resilient Design Institute and who was a principal author and champion of the LEED pilot credits for resiliency, has been talking about resilience since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.

The week following Katrina, he wrote an editorial in Environmental Building News suggesting we look carefully at how we develop buildings along the Gulf Coast and other vulnerable areas. Wilson then led a series of charrettes in Atlanta in 2005, which included people from the Gulf Coast, to create the 10-point New Orleans Principles guideline for reconstruction in coastal regions hit by a disaster.

In New Orleans, they found that older homes fared better for residents after Katrina in the days with no power than new homes designed for air conditioning. That's because the older homes were designed with vernacular architecture, with wrap-around verandas and natural ventilation keeping them cooler. This is what Wilson calls "passive survivability," which designers more commonly refer to simply as "resilience."

One new LEED pilot credit on resilience — credit 100 on the LEED numbering system — is titled the Passive Survivability design credit. Its purpose is to prepare building designs for functionality during emergencies, requiring the design team to create a building that provides two of these: livable conditions after a disaster; backup power; or access to potable water. (The most resilient design would have all three, but the design only needs two to earn a pilot credit from LEED.) "This is not about keeping occupants comfortable," Wilson said. "It’s about keeping them alive."

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How Resilience Will Shape The Future Of Building Design