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Is Resilience the New Sustainability? Part 1

Resilient design is, “The intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to vulnerabilities to disaster and disruption of normal life,” as defined by The Resilient Design Institute.

Any construction professional wants their structures to stand the test of time, but is resilience truly the new sustainability? Our Orlando construction lawyers are here to examine this question in a comprehensive five-part article. Part 1 will cover the importance of a structure’s longevity, environmental factors, and viewing cities as systems. Part 2 and Part 3 will go over the resilient design principles. Part 4 and Part 5 will delve deeper into specific environmental dangers and the building strategies that help protect against them.

Standing the Test of Time

Resilient design, also called building resilience, is always a big topic of conversation after a natural disaster strikes.

As desirable as it may be for a building to be LEED or Energy Star certified, a green stamp of approval no longer matters if the building has been destroyed by a natural disaster. Creating energy efficient homes and commercial buildings is important, but they must also stand the test of time.

Some experts say that it is no longer enough to just build to code or even just to build energy-efficient homes. Resilient design is imperative.

Environmental Factors

A building’s resilience is dependent upon its ability to withstand natural disasters and environmental stressors. For example, a New York City building must be able to endure flooding, blizzards, and hurricanes. Even during years with less precipitation, the extreme New York temperature changes—including the alternation of air-conditioned interiors and humid outdoor heat in the summer to dry indoor heating and sub-freezing outdoor temperatures in the winter— are hard on a given building.

The West Coast’s environmental concerns are very different; for example, a Los Angeles building must instead withstand potential earthquakes and fires.

Any city must also endure the standard damage that comes with thousands of people moving through the same spaces each day and prepare for potential manmade disasters like terrorism.

Viewing Cities as Systems

When it comes to the practical application of resilient design, cities should be thought of as systems. It is crucial to understand a city’s interdependencies, evaluate its intricate systems, and build in a way that enhances the overall quality of life for its residents. Cities are advised against hiding their vulnerabilities in an attempt to attract investment or development. If these new additions are built without awareness or regard for these vulnerabilities, the potential benefits can be negated.

If you would like to speak with one of our Orlando construction attorneys, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.