Resilience is defined as the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and to sustain or recover functionality and vibrancy in the face of strain or disruption. It is the ability to bounce back after an interruption or inconvenience. Resilience in design—better known by architects and designers as resilient design—is intentionally designing homes, buildings, topography, neighborhoods, and districts to respond to natural and manmade disruptions. In particular, resilient designs should diminish the effect of extreme weather, climate change, and environmental anomalies. A resilient design centers around pragmatic and sensible solutions. With resilient infrastructures, architects and designers can build bearable structures capable of withstanding most conditions.
We cannot prevent destructive events from happening, but designers can take certain steps to minimize environmental influences. Below are some examples of green principles used in today’s resilient design methodology.
Try Your Best to Avoid High-Risk Areas
The best course of action for any new project is to avoid building it in a high-risk area, such as geological locations prone to destructive storms, earthquakes, flooding, forest fires, et cetera. In doing so, you’re able to focus your design efforts and investment dollars towards maximizing operational efficiency. If your project involves renovating a structure situated within a high-risk area, then begin the design process by devising a disaster mitigation strategy that will allow the facility to run in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.
Keep Flexibility in Mind Throughout the Design Process
A flexible design is one that prepares for future prospects. This means refraining from cutting corners or merely designing to meet the minimum requirements. It also means anticipating divergence from past forecasts and trends. You may want to consider consulting with local geologists and meteorologists about long term environmental projections in the project’s region. Furthermore, when determining the location of critical facilities and systems, make sure to factor in climate change.
An example of flexibility in design is the Flood Vulnerability Assessment for Critical Facilities which includes goals like “provide climate data to Midwest stakeholders,” “assess regional climate and impacts,” and “conduct applied climate research.” Another example materialized during the COVID-19 pandemic, with organizations building temporary negative pressure units. Such units feature ventilation systems with a built-in anti-virus high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter keeping the air within the cabin clean. The cabin is used to examine people as they enter and exit facilities. Some units can be equipped with sinks, showers, and other safety equipment.
Create Robust and Straightforward Systems
Surprisingly, many designers still think that intricate systems are necessary to maximize energy efficiency. However, straightforward systems can yield equal or even more energy-efficient outcomes. Employing the most robust systems obtainable supports long-term efficiency better than more complex systems requiring constant maintenance and care.
Additionally, applying manual controls wherever possible bolsters potential periods when the electrical infrastructure is down. By incorporating manual controls into the initial design, familiarity with the design will be integrated into training manuals. This makes training employees easier during the commissioning phase, so they possess the knowledge necessary for emergency operations.
Create Resilience Hubs and Community Facilities
Resilience Hubs are “community-serving facilities augmented to support residents and coordinate resource distribution and services before, during, or after a natural hazard event.” A perfect example of a resilience hub is using an already established and trusted community-managed center. When well-designed, Resilience Hubs can greatly improve a community’s flexibility while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhancing the quality of life.
When building new community centers, high schools, town halls, senior centers, and other similar structures, designers should plan infrastructures that can easily be converted for other uses during emergencies—a robust infrastructure that can easily take on the added capacity for short-term events.
Use Natural Resources When Available
In order to reduce your dependency on traditional sources, incorporate on-site rainwater storage into your designs. Stored rainwater can be used for stormwater management, as well as for vegetated roofs, irrigation, greywater systems, and bioswales to reduce the urban heat island effect. Some designers have repurposed various structures for stormwater storage, which potentially eliminates demolition costs and the need to purchase new water storage tanks.
Use Passive Design Measures
Active design strategies normally consist of heating and cooling systems. Passive design measures involve designing a building to take advantage of nature; it also incorporates solar energy, continuous insulation, air sealings, plenty of natural lighting, and building orientation.
Sustainable design elements such as these have become more commonplace in recent years and prove to be great for the environment and for operational costs. Passive design measures follow the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) design principles and are the most widely utilized green building rating system in the world. LEED is available for nearly every type of design project imaginable and “provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.”