What is a climate resilient property?
Climate resilient properties and sustainable development are fast becoming the hallmark of quality realestate. As global views on development shift and investors begin to direct their money towards greener industries , climate resilient properties offer a holistic and enduring investment.
The National Academy of Sciences defines resilience as, “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” Applied in a built environment context, climate-resilient property design concentrates on how buildings, landscapes and communities are capable of withstanding climate change events such as rising sea levels, extreme rain and flooding events, droughts and heatwaves.
A climate resilient property is built with future climate change in mind to protect investors and homeowners from future risks and financial losses. Instead of working against our shifting environment, resilient properties work with the change to mitigate risk and reduce ongoing expenditure
The key to creating resilient properties is to look at the big picture; invest money in adaptation measures, quality materials and consulting specialists such as climate risk analysts, green architects and sustainable construction companies.
How can we adapt properties to climate change?
There are many strategies available to improve the climate resiliency of a property. Localised and tailored responses to specific climate risks allow tactical decisions for present and future environmental changes, some examples may include:
Adaptation measures for heatwave prone properties may include; Raised houses, high ceiling rooms and large openings increase to ventilation, physical shutters to block out sunlight, reflective surfaces and urban forests and green roofs. By having greenery around dwellings, more shade is offered while the plants lower the ambient temperature.
In areas of extreme drought, rainwater capturing systems are a common way to cut bills and help the environment while reducing flood risks in heavy downpours. Similarly, revegetation around infrastructure allows more water to be absorbed down to the groundwater, replenishing it and reducing the potential for surface flooding.
Coastal flooding and sea levels rising
Many coastal and river towns prone to flooding have had elevated buildings and walkways to allow water flow without damage. Breakwalls are also used to direct water flow and protect exposed communities, while revegetation of river banks and coastal regions with mangrove trees can act as a buffer and reduce erosion.
Cyclones and strong winds
As extreme weather events become more frequent, climate resiliency focussed planning will be important to protect exposed buildings. Orientation and the aerodynamics of a building will reduce risk of damage; round buildings and staggered roof slopes help reduce wind force. “Frangible Architecture” plans for damage. House features are designed to be broken and replaced to reduce overall damage to other more structural elements of the home.
Prolonged low temperatures is something many Australian houses are not designed to withstand. When creating a climate resilient building, effective insulation and cost effective heating solutions are key to achieving maximum comfort; black paint, water walls and trombe walls heat the house at a low economic and environmental cost while insulated walls, floors and roofs help stabilise temperatures.
Climate resiliency; the sweet spot between climate adaptation and mitigation
It’s a tricky balance in a changing world to invest in an environmentally and economically sustainable property. Climate resilience offers a happy medium in learning when it’s time to adapt to change or mitigate risks. The examples above offer only a fraction of climate risk mitigation and adaptation strategies but show that protecting physical assets requires a range of diverse strategies.
Making conscientious decisions when purchasing and building real estate saves money in the long run; better insulation, skylights and rainwater catchment reduces bills and helps save the environment, while resilient property-designs reduce climate risks for property owners.