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Is Resilience the New Sustainability? Part 4

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

Part 1 of this five-part article discussed the importance of a building’s longevity, environmental factors, and the idea of cities as systems. Part 2 and Part 3 explained the ten resilient design principles provided by the Resilient Design Institute. The last two parts of this editorial will discuss resilient design in regard to specific building concerns. Today in Part 4, our Florida construction lawyers will cover commercial buildings, fire-resistant design, and earthquake resistant design. In Part 5, we will conclude with temperature fluctuation, precipitation, and the building envelope.

The Importance of Commercial Buildings

In the past, residential buildings and community infrastructure have been two major focuses of resilient design. Non-residential buildings have been largely overlooked, despite how crucial they are to a city’s overall resilience.

For example, all of lower Manhattan lost power for four days following Hurricane Sandy. If the Con Edison power plant had been better designed with higher flood barrier walls, it would not have exploded. Consequently, lower Manhattan would have maintained power and New York City would not have had to endure public transportation failure, hospital evacuations, and general evacuations. Other Manhattan buildings, including two major hospitals, also suffered flooding and consequent evacuations that could have been prevented by better design.

Fire Resistant Design

There are two main types of fire threats: urban hazard fires and wildfires. Building code addresses common fire hazards with proper escape methods, fire-resistant stairwells, and fire-resistant building materials. However, as wildfires become a growing threat, especially in the West, it is also critical to implement barrier zones, brush clearing practices, and fire-resistant landscaping.

Earthquake Resistant Design

Earthquakes have the potential to cause a devastating amount of damage, but some of this damage is preventable. As most construction professionals know, it’s just as important for a building to be ductile as it is to be strong. Fortunately, there are a variety of technologies and building methods that can help a structure flex and absorb vibration.

These include:

Base isolation- This is when the base is decoupled from the rest of the building. During an earthquake, the base shakes and superstructure stays intact.
Expansion joints- These allow the building to move without damage.
Expansion joint covers- As the name suggests, expansion joint covers conceal the expansion joints, letting the building retain its overall aesthetic appeal while allowing for expansion, contraction, and even the shaking associated with potential seismic movement.

If you would like to speak with a Florida construction lawyer, 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.