Flooding, High Winds, and Wild Fires: What’s Going On?
The issue of climate change is an inescapable one, with almost daily reports of the effects it is having upon the planet hitting the news. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising by almost 1.9 parts per million, per year, and subtle increases in temperature have set the ball rolling for some potentially catastrophic changes to the environment and the habitats of the earth. The polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising and it seems the planet’s weather is becoming more unpredictable and severe as each season rolls by.
The effects of climate change can also be seen closer to home, quite literally, with severe weather causing damage to properties in the form of flooding, high winds and wildfires; families are being uprooted and in the most extreme cases communities destroyed. It is perhaps time to think about ways in which future houses can be protected against the effects of climate change.
Helping Homes to Cope With Climate Change
While adequate at the moment, current housing is simply too vulnerable to withstand the challenges of climate change. The subtle rise in temperature and severe weather patterns that are occurring more frequently are already causing noticeable damage; higher rainfall brings with it a risk of flooding, while fires caused by high temperatures and drought threaten homes and communities, and strong winds and hurricanes batter properties. These conditions will only get worse, so homes must be strengthened now.
Aside from the obvious damage caused to buildings by floodwater and high winds, many homes and business properties are also prone to overheating, even during relatively mild summers. This causes risk to inhabitants and workers, particularly the young, vulnerable or elderly. These effects could be remedied in the short-term by the introduction of blinds or heavy curtains, which are designed to keep the worst of the heat out.
Cooling systems can also provide an easy relief to the effects of the heat and can be installed with relatively little disturbance. Shutters are also particularly effective against high winds and can offer substantial protection to windows during periods of inclement weather.
Looking to the Future
Short-term fixes, such as those listed above, will certainly help towards future-proofing existing homes. However, it is perhaps time to look ahead to how new houses need to be built. Houses, after all, are built with longevity in mind, so decisions regarding the homes of the future must be made now.
When it comes to building new homes and workplaces it is vital for the authorities, developers, and builders to look towards sustainability; forms of construction that can better withstand climate change. They should consider impact-resistant windows and shutters, using sturdier materials, specialized components that won’t rust or corrode easily, the use of non-combustible materials and non-vented roofing.
Energy efficiency must also be at the fore of these new designs, enabling homeowners of the future to reduce their carbon footprint and take better care of their environment. Features of these newly built homes could include solar panels, water efficient appliances and rainwater collection, natural ventilation and carefully landscaped gardens to provide natural shade and cooling.
It is now up to the relevant authorities to put these plans in motion, investing in the future rather than saving, quite literally, for a rainy day. Future-proofing towns and cities won’t be an instant, easy fix, but with careful planning, such as better flood defenses and stricter building regulations it is perfectly possible to see a significant change for the better.
Photo Via: Len Radin, Flickr Creative Commons