No more buts: your buildings need to be climate resilient now!

January 13, 2023

When talking about building resiliency, we often hear a lot of “buts” – “But is it in the budget? But how will it affect tenant operations? But, what about the lease? But, what about the market?"

Don’t we want to raise our families in a healthier space, in more efficient buildings and with ways of doing things that create less or no waste?

Let’s shed some light on the resilience of the built environment and what companies can do to future proof their assets.

The climate and nature’s interaction with the built environment creates a risk for all of us if the building structure, building services and management procedures are not built to withstand the forces of nature.

The risk to the built environment depends on how disposable, resilient or rebuildable the building is, what back-up plans are in place to minimise the risk and how you can maintain building operations after a disaster.

How about we do something to improve efficiency and save the planet at the same time.

Making your building climate resilient is a two step approach:
• first, make the building as efficient as possible so as not to further contribute to climate change
• second, make the building resilient to the forces of nature

Lately, the price of not acting and not being prepared far outweighs the cost of downtime, fixing and replacing buildings and infrastructure. People continue to build on flood plains and rebuild in the same place after being flooded. Housing and infrastructure are still being repaired eight months after the Brisbane floods in February 2022 – so how long can you sustain not being able to use your building?

Minimising risks starts with initial design. I am amazed to still see new high-rise buildings having high exposure to the sun with dark to black facades, poor orientation to the sun, large sun exposure on east and west facades, floor to ceiling glazing panels, no external shading and relying on high performance dark glass to achieve National Construction Code compliance.

Poor building design means bigger air conditioning plants taking up more building space, more energy consumed in construction and operation and services have higher initial and on-going costs.

Minimising risks for existing buildings include changing building facades, upgrading building services, relocating building services, reducing your impact on the environment through efficiencies and having an action plan in place when your building fails, is isolated or shut down.