Extreme weather events that the US suffered such as Hurricane Sandy, Snowvember, and the historic flooding along Lake Ontario, causing several billions of dollars’ worth of losses have motivated Nicolas Rajkovich to develop climate-resilient buildings.
Knowing that extreme climate events will increase in frequency, intensity, and duration, Rajkovich leads a laboratory that studies climate change and buildings at the University at Buffalo.
He says that the US buildings may not be prepared for future climate-related storms and flooding and consume a lot of energy and contributes nearly 40% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.
His lab focuses on connecting energy efficiency, renewable energy and adaptation to climate change and notes that yes, Americans have the capacity to protect themselves from extreme weather while cutting its contribution to climate change at the same time.
In his article “As the climate changes,” he says that the top threats of climate change in the US that are costliest are hurricanes, flooding, and storms in terms of its damages to buildings and infrastructures.
Making buildings more resilient is the way forward Rajkovich says. But in his interview with engineers, architects, and planners he finds that majority of them assumes that the future weather conditions will be similar to the past, but the trend shows that this is not the case he argues.
Suggestions on designing climate-resilient buildings
If buildings and infrastructures have to adapt and be resilient to extreme weather conditions and avoiding massive losses in the futures, these are some of the recommendations that Rajkovich in his article stated:
- Re-evaluating architect and engineering standard practices for design, construction, and operation of buildings;
- Recommendation to change the engineering codes and standards after Hurricane Sandy;
- Raising the first floor of buildings for flood-prone areas;
- Wet floodproofing buildings that would allow floodwater to enter but not damage the building;
- Cooling areas during heatwaves. Heatwaves in the US kills around 600 per year;
- ‘Rethinking’ the design of building walls and roofs to protect occupants from heatwaves, an approach he calls ‘passive survivability;
These are some of the climate adaptation and resilience strategies that Rajkovich suggested that cities and communities prone to extreme weather events may choose to adopt.
He also mentions about their design studio at the University of Buffalo that explores changes to building designs for future climate changes.
Climate-proofing buildings and infrastructure seem to be the best way forward, factoring in the extreme weather events in the design process.
This climate adaptation technic will not only prevent massive losses against the consequences of climate change but will also protect the residents, plants, and animals living in the urban and population-dense areas.