Building Resilient Homes in the Climate Change Era
Climate change is no longer a scientific projection of the future; it is happening across the globe right now. Constructing climate-savvy homes that are resilient to the challenges of the climate crisis is crucial for all people on the planet.
The climate crisis poses many problems for our global community to solve, and building resilient homes is no different. Extreme weather like heatwaves, floods and storms will increase in frequency worldwide, and households will be in the firing line if mitigation measures are not implemented.
Resilient Homes Around the World
3 billion people are projected to live in substandard housing by 2030. What a climate-resilient house involves will vary depending on its locality and the climate threats it’s likely to face. Ensuring the foundations and walls of a structure are built with durability in mind is vital to creating resilient homes.
Summer heatwaves will make domestic life uncomfortable, severe and frequent floods will make homes vulnerable to water damage, and frequent strong winds will damage buildings. Rising sea levels could result in over 300 million people losing their homes to climate change by 2050. Constructing homes on pillars that allow floodwater and seawater to flow beneath them will be vital to creating resistant houses.
In other locations, building resilience to the cold will be vital. Adapting homes to cold and temperate climates demands measures that capture heat and minimise its loss. Double-glazed windows and insulation within roofs, walls and ceilings all go a long way to increasing a building's energy efficiency and reducing heat loss.
How Can I Make My Home Climate-Smart?
1. Solar Shading
Installing curtains, shutters or reflective blinds at windows will protect your home from the sun’s heat and reduce indoor temperatures. This will keep you cool as outdoor temperatures skyrocket.
2. Harvest Rainwater
Water butts or other types of water collection devices can save up to 400 litres of water per person per year and lower energy emissions along the way.
3. Install Cooling Measures
Low-cost passive cooling measures, otherwise known as those that require very little, if any, energy consumption, are an efficient and practical tactic to tackle overheating. Options such as ceiling fans are inexpensive and can keep you cool on hot days.
4. Relocate Electrical Sockets
Flooding will become a significant problem worldwide, and we are already beginning to see evidence of this. Relocating electrical sockets to sit above predicted flood levels will help safeguard your property against flood damage and save you money. The seemingly high upfront cost is an investment that will save you money in the long run.
5. Choose Concrete
In areas at high risk of flooding, replacing lower-level wood floors with solid concrete is a sensible step to improve your home’s flood resiliency. Concrete also helps to prevent overheating in warmer climates. It also reflects light, saving energy costs for artificial lighting.
Energy-efficient buildings will be paramount, both now and in the future, to achieve the net-zero ambition. Low-temperature heating and cooling systems, intelligent lighting, and innovative ventilation systems all contribute to slowing heat loss and reducing carbon emissions.
7. Working with Nature
Combining traditional building practices with nature-based solutions can also deliver promising results. Green roofs, for example, not only are an aesthetically pleasing feature, but they have also been shown to provide insulation and lower energy demands for cooling and heating. Green infrastructure actively reduces pollution, mitigates climate change and offers numerous health benefits to the broader local community.
Why Invest in Climate-Resilient Homes?
There is an economic incentive for building climate-resilient homes. Severe flooding and relentless tropical storms will impact millions of people and their homes worldwide. According to some experts, investing in climate-smart infrastructure could save society an enormous $4.2 trillion from climate change-induced damages. Individually, an action plan for home design can protect each family's investment. Considering that an average family spends up to 90% of their life savings in their home, making housing durable in the face of climate change is crucial to protecting lives and livelihoods from disasters. Building resilient homes are worth the short-term economic pain for long-term gain.
Resiliency for All
Climate-induced disasters make 14 million people homeless annually, with this number set to rise as the effects of climate change become more severe year on year. Climate-resilient homes are typically more expensive, and poor communities struggle to obtain the means to afford them or access financial credit to pay for the majority of required renovations.