resilience

Passivhaus Design in Minnesota

Posted on February 27,2015 by ScottG in Passivhaus

As net-zero energy and Passivhaus-certified houses become more commonplace, it's not at all unusual to hear of exterior walls rated at R-40 or R-50. But that's not going to be nearly good enough for Tom Schmidt, who's building a 3,800-square-foot house in Minnesota. R-80 is more like it, and the walls need to be "cost-effective" as well as not too thick.

Resilience as a Driver of Change

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in climate change

Readers of this column have heard me argue in the past that resilience can be a motivation for taking actions that will not only make us and our families safer, but also help to mitigate climate change. Let me lay out that basic argument again.

When the Gas Pipeline Shuts Down

Posted on February 27,2015 by user-756436 in Armenia

In the wake of the recent military crisis in Crimea, energy experts have been discussing whether Vladimir Putin will be tempted to gain political advantage by shutting the valves on the Russian natural gas pipelines that supply Ukraine and Western Europe. Regardless of whether this scenario is likely, such speculation raises the question: How would urban residents in a cold climate cope if the supply of natural gas were suddenly turned off?

It Takes a Village to Be Resilient

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in Passive survivability

The Dummerston Energy Committee, on which I serve in my home town, is conducting an energy survey. Partly, we are conducting this survey to understand how our town uses energy — both in our homes and in our vehicles. We have a goal in Dummerston, articulated in our Town Plan, to reduce nonrenewable energy consumption 40% by 2030, and we’re trying to establish a baseline from which to measure our success in achieving that long-term target. But we’re also conducting this survey for another reason that may be more important: to gauge how resilient our town is.

Defining Habitable Temperatures

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in elderly

Over the past five months, the New York City Buildings Resiliency Task Force has been working to figure out how to make buildings in the City more resilient. The Task Force, which was created at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in the wake of Superstorm Sandy and facilitated by Urban Green, the U.S. Green Building Council Chapter in New York City, issued its recommendations on June 13, 2013.

Rebuilding in Tornado Country

Posted on February 27,2015 by ScottG in FEMA

Tornadoes have struck the Midwest with a vengeance this year, killing dozens of people and causing widespread destruction of property. In the city of Moore, Oklahoma, a tornado with winds topping 200 miles per hour struck on May 20, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble. Many homeowners will rebuild, so what should their new houses look like? In a post at GreenBuildingAdvisor's Q&A forum, David Gregory raises that question.

What I’m Hoping for in the New Year

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in bicycle

With snow gently falling as the holiday season winds down, I find myself reflecting on the New Year and what we might hope for. World peace of course, and solving the poverty conundrum would be great. But what about energy and the environment? Here are some thoughts:

Gas Lines Point to a Need for Resilience

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in Passive survivability

By now we’ve all seen the photos of houses buried in sand along the Jersey Shore, burned-out homes in Queens, and submerged subway stations in Manhattan. Those spectacular images were in the first wave of news from Superstorm Sandy last week.

Designing Homes and Communities That Can Survive a Disaster

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in disaster planning

Some 27 years ago, following a five-year stint as director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (which was then based in Brattleboro), I launched my own company focusing on information about environmentally responsible design and construction.

Designing Houses and Communities To Be Smarter and More Resilient

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in flood

As we look to create homes and communities that will keep us comfortable and safe in a world of climate change, terrorism, and other vulnerabilities, there are a handful of strategies that I group loosely under the heading of "smarter design." Some of these strategies come into play more at the land-use planning scale, or are relevant only in certain locations that are at risk of flooding, but all are worth thinking about when planning a new home. Where we build

Green Building Priority #9 – Create Resilient Houses

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in Passive survivability

Climate change is underway, and some of the impacts of that change will affect our homes. We need to account for that in the design, construction, and remodeling of our homes.

Making Houses Resilient to Power Outages

Posted on February 27,2015 by AlexWilson in Passive survivability

The ice storm a week-and-a-half ago illustrated, all too clearly, the vulnerability of our homes. Hundreds of thousands of homes in New England lost power in the storm, which deposited up to an inch of ice on trees the night of December 11th, and tens of thousands were still without power a full week later, despite heroic efforts by utility crews. This illustrates why all houses should be designed and built to achieve “passive survivability,” an idea that, nationally, I’ve been advancing for the past three years.

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