How to prepare buildings for changing climates
Marketing efforts for the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle have finally hit home, and climate change is officially part of the public discussion. But damage caused by environmental neglect is escalating quicker than anticipated.
It’s imperative to do all we can to mitigate the effects of a warming world, suggests The Environmental Magazine.
The 2030 Challenge sets the goal of carbon-neutral buildings within the next 12 years, which means buildings and building design will have to pivot to keep up with the changing climate conditions expected in 2018 and beyond.
Here’s a look at how buildings can prepare for the new climate conditions and how to lower the greenhouse emissions of homes and offices.
Strategies to cope with warmer temperatures
By 2050, New York will probably have the same climate of Norfolk, Virginia. Before you crank up the air conditioner, consider that we may not be able to be so trigger happy with our energy use. We need to be more environmentally friendly about building designs to cope with warmer temperatures, and that means changing the approach to building design and our lifestyles.
- Natural ventilation: In some areas of the U.S., buildings are designed to be entirely reliant on natural ventilation. Removing and supplying a building’s air via natural means eliminates the requirement of a fan or other mechanical systems. Typically, pressure differences are harnessed between the indoors and outside to encourage the flow of air.
- High-efficiency equipment: The higher the efficiency of your lighting appliances, office facilities and other electrical features, the less energy is wasted. Be sure to limit unnecessary energy use by using high-efficiency equipment.
- Green roofing: Urban heat islands heighten cooling requirements and also create clusters of city smog. It is not unheard of, in fact, for these islands to maintain levels of 3 to 4 degrees centigrade above local temperatures. One way to fight this is through using roofing with reflective surfaces to prevent further absorption of the sun’s heat.
Rubber roofing is likely to become more popular, especially in high-temp areas, due to its ability to stand up to high temperatures. In fact, rubber is extremely resistant to the impacts and effects of sun and heat.
Along with warmer temperatures will come changes in precipitation patterns. As we learned almost a decade ago already, Lake Lanier, Atlanta’s main source of water, shrank to unprecedented levels.
- Avoid drier areas: To cope with more occurrences of drought or water shortages, development should be avoided in dry regions. Some cities are even being required to prove they can support a new development’s future water needs for 20 years.
- Use water-efficient fixtures: High-quality and efficient water fixtures should be part of any new building design, as water-conserving products save a significant amount of water. Furthermore, buildings should include structured plumbing and graywater separation.
- Harvest rainwater: Rainwater should be collected for toilet flushing and garden irrigation. Harvesting the rain can be critically important for emergency situations, too.
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