It’s not new news and it’s not good news, but climate change is real and it’s coming to you and your loved ones in 2018 and beyond. Climate research scientists have warned us about the increasingly detrimental and widespread effects of manmade global warming for decades, and how imperative it is to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions with urgency.
Unfortunately, we’re all a little slow on the uptake. However, marketing efforts for the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle have finally hit home, and climate change is officially part of the public discussion. The problem is, the damage caused by environmental neglect is escalating quicker than we anticipated. It’s imperative to do all we can to mitigate the effects of a warming world.
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. We’ll be taking a look at just how buildings can prepare for the new climate conditions we’ve been warned about or perhaps even experienced, and how to lower the greenhouse emissions of our homes and offices.
Strategies to Cope With Warmer Temperatures
By 2050, New York will probably have the same climate of Norfolk, Virginia. Before you dismiss it and start cranking up the air conditioner, consider that we may not be able to be so trigger happy with our energy use anymore. We need to be more environmentally friendly about building designs to cope with warmer temperatures, and that means changing our approach to building design as well as 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 do 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.
Countermeasures for Natural Disasters
Another symptom of global warming that we are anticipating for 2018 and beyond is more intense storms, flooding and rising sea levels.
- Avoid flood zones: Flood zones are expanding, so save yourself the time and effort and avoid building or renovating in these areas.
- Raise buildings off the ground: If you can’t avoid flood-prone zones, buildings and living spaces can occasionally be constructed on stilts or other forms of raised platforms.
- Plan for rising sea levels: In the U.S., some of the largest populations are clustered around seashores and bays, so preparing for rising sea levels is imperative. The construction of levees, installation of flood walls, building of alternative coastal landscapes or even relocation of cities are all options to prevent decimation of sea-level communities.
Climate change conditions are real and it’s time we reacted in the appropriate fashion. 2018 is the year to absorb the importance of making changes to our buildings and lifestyles to prevent further global warming, and avoid symptoms of it such as natural disasters.