I’ve written exclusively about the design and construction of homes and buildings for nearly my entire, satisfying career. I write for a variety of audiences, including homeowners, architects, contractors, manufacturers, and appraisers.
For the past 15 or 20 years, it’s been all about “green building.” Thanks to the AIA, the U.S. Dept. of Energy, the U.S. Green Building Council, the NAHB, and scores of enlightened manufacturers and building industry professionals, our buildings are better, tighter, healthier, and more energy efficient than ever before. Of course, we need to go all the way to net zero, and beyond.
But lately my focus has been on how these buildings can survive natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, ice storms, extreme heat, extreme cold, earthquakes, and other challenges.
I say “natural” disasters, but many of them are unnatural, brought about by our climate changing at a rate many times greater than ever recorded or imagined. We are seeing earthquakes in areas where they have never been, likely as a result of fracking. Friends, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Or maybe we are.
So, going forward, my greatest satisfaction comes from dedicating my skills as a writer and developer of educational programs to help elevate our knowledge on how our homes and buildings can best survive these challenges.
Back in the day, we might look toward locales vulnerable to natural disasters — such as homes built on the edges of drought-stricken national forests, or cites located below sea level — and wonder why anyone would live in these places.
Today, though, the majority of us are at risk. Rivers are topping their banks more than ever before. Records are broken. Places that have never flooded are flooding. Formerly dry towns and streets and neighborhoods are washed away or flooded. Today’s wildfires terrify even the veteran firefighters, who increasingly state that they have never seen anything like this.
In each type of disaster, homes that are built to withstand the disaster have a better chance of surviving, and those that are built wrong will perish. Lives and investments will be saved or ruined, according to how these buildings are put together. We can’t ask everyone to relocate to some mythical spot of ground where there are no disasters. We must improve our homes and buildings where are now.
By smart attention to where we locate the mechanicals and the electrical systems, how we install the drywall, how we elevate homes, how the eaves are protected from embers, which materials are impervious to fire or moisture, how the roof framing is attached to the house, etc., we can save homes and buildings and prevent their destruction. We can build them with disaster in mind, speeding up the period of remediation after the crises, getting people back home and into their neighborhoods as soon as possible.
Going forward, I’m looking to focus my work on helping make our homes and buildings disaster resistant, which means disaster resilient. We can’t stop radical weather events at this point, but we can get ready for them.
At the very core of myself, home is absolutely everything I rely on for safety and sanity. To help others not lose their homes will be my mission.
Do you make a product that makes homes more resilient? To discuss your Lunch & Learn CEU or white paper needs, contact us at email@example.com.