It’s Time for Resilient Design!

The entire Fall 2010 issue of YES! Magazine was dedicated to A Resilient Community, and they covered everything from Just the Facts :: Why Build Resilience? to a Crash Course in Resilience. Fast forward to 2013 and we now have the building and architecture industry showing considerable interest in resilience as an essential part of sustainable design.

In fact in 2012 Alex Wilson, founder of GreenBuilding Inc and executive editor of Environmental Building News, started the Resilient Design Institute, with the goal of advancing the many facets of resilience at personal, community, and regional scales.

Resilience is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption of some sort. At various levels —individuals, households, communities, and regions — through resilience we can maintain livable conditions in the event of natural disasters, loss of power, or other interruptions in normally available services.

Relative to climate change, resilience involves adaptation to the wide range of regional and localized impacts that are expected with a warming planet: more intense storms, greater precipitation, coastal and valley flooding, longer and more severe droughts in some areas, wildfires, melting permafrost, warmer temperatures, and power outages.

Resilient design is the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to the these vulnerabilities.

As much as we’d like to think that living sustainably is about green homes & gizmos, hybrid cars and solar panels, the reality is it’s also about continuing to thrive in the face of adversity and rapid change. But, how do we do that?

We learn from buildings and communities designed before the age of oil and electricity; from cities devastated by natural disasters; and from building programs like Passive House and Living Building, which drastically reduce resource use. Resilient design explores these ideas and more, and calls on each and every one of us to actively participate in preparing ourselves, our homes and our communities for a very uncertain future.

Interested in learning more? Alex Wilson will be in Seattle May 14th addressing resilient design in the context of a transition toward sustainability. He will cover a wide range of practical solutions, from boosting energy performance of homes to maintaining livable conditions during extended power outages, to redesigning communities to function without gasoline and encouraging local food production.

For your additional reading pleasure, more on Resilient Design…

Building Green Is No Longer Enough, It is Time To Build Resilient – TreeHugger

Will the Resilience Movement Help the World Cope With the Resource Crunch? – IMT Green & Clean Journal