Climate change and exacerbating natural disasters, including extreme weather events that increase with intensity and frequency require a new evaluation of how modern high-performance building technologies may create new vulnerabilities or actually help making buildings more disaster resilient. At the community level, private residences are crucial shelter systems to protect against disasters, and are a central component in the greater effort of creating comprehensive disaster resilient built environments. Residential buildings and communities need to become more resilient for the changing climates they are located in, or will face devastating consequences. There is a great potential for specific high-performance building technologies to play a vital role in achieving disaster resilience.
The application of these technologies can not only provide immediate protection and reduced risk for buildings and its occupants, but can additionally alleviate disaster recovery stressors to critical infrastructure and livelihoods. The notion of expanding sustainability further into the area of resilience has become of more of a focus in the architecture, planning, and building construction sectors, specifically in response to the observed devastations from recent natural disasters. Another motivation comes from efforts to prepare for an uncertain and volatile future in regards to the environments and climates found around the world. The benefits of disaster resilient high-performance buildings and communities can be diverse, with strategies such as creating “survival cell” homes and communities through the use of enhanced enclosure systems, and implementing local cogeneration utilities while collapsed infrastructure systems can be brought back online. This research presents strategies and methodologies to create a process of effectively prioritizing residential building technologies that encompass both high-performance and resilience qualities that can be implemented for a variety of contexts.
Georg Reichard is an Associate Professor of Building Construction and principal faculty of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. His research deals with numerical methods, simulation and data models, in particular in the area of building sciences. In his current research, he focuses on building performance, energy efficiency in buildings, decision-making for retrofit solutions, systems integration, integrated control strategies and smart building materials – using modeling and simulation assessment techniques to improve our buildings, its systems and processes.