Green, sustainable buildings advance disaster resiliency

| by Teena Hammond
Green, sustainable buildings advance disaster resiliency

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning released a report today that describes how green buildings advance resiliency in disasters. The report was released during the National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and National Security in the 21st Century, hosted by USGBC and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA.

The report, titled Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions, describes potential adaptive strategies available to green building practitioners. These strategies add an important new dimension to green building's long-standing focus on reducing greenhouse gases through energy efficiency and renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.

"Every building is designed for a specific range of conditions, such as peak temperature, storm surge and average precipitation," said Dr. Chris Pyke, vice president of research at USBGC. "Climate change has the potential to undermine some of these assumptions and potentially increase risks to people and property. Fortunately, there are practical steps we can take to understand and prepare for the consequences of changing environmental conditions and reduce potential impacts. This can help green buildings meet and exceed expectations for comfort and performance long into the future."

Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also spoke at the National Press Club as part of the event and emphasized the importance of green buildings in disaster preparedness. Fugate urged leaders from major corporations, government, academia, the scientific community and civil society to help advance green building as a complementary strategy to address pre- and post-emergency management situations, ultimately forging more resilient communities.

"In the wake of last year's disaster activity, with tornadoes across the southwest, flooding from Hurricane Irene and even an earthquake on the East Coast, it is important that we develop and enforce safe and sustainable building codes to make our communities more resilient, and to protect lives and property in times of disaster," Fugate said. "Green building practices, resiliency of our communities and emergency management priorities are not mutually exclusive."

The report, which identifies the deep synergies between green building and resiliency, advances several firsts in the field, such as:

  • Examining the implications of climate change for green building and identifies opportunities for resilience through the design, construction, and operation of buildings and communities
  • Analyzing how individual LEED credits support regional adaptation needs, such as enhanced water conversation in arid climates and water-sensitive regions
  • Demonstrating how consideration of climate resilience in buildings can increase the likelihood of achieving performance goals throughout the lifetime of a project

"Through extensive study, examination and practice, the green building movement continues to drive the development and use of proven building strategies for a sustainable and resilient future," said Dr. Jason Hartke, vice president of National Policy at USGBC. "We commend Administrator Fugate and his colleagues in the Obama Administration who are advancing this 'no-regrets' resiliency agenda - showing the benefit of incorporating appropriate disaster preparation and prevention strategies in the built environment and leading efforts to develop the necessary tools and resources to rebound smarter, greener and better when disasters do strike."

Read more about building a green home.

Topics: Building Green

Companies: U.S. Green Building Council

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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