Climate Change Resilient Homes

The Thirty Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan 2015 developed by the National Infrastructure Unit in October last year identified some of the key challenges facing infrastructure between now and 2045. One of the challenges identified in the plan was the effect that climate change will have on infrastructure. Climate change poses a threat to infrastructure and housing due to increased rainfall, rising sea levels and flooding. This then raises questions around what we can do to develop and manage our infrastructure to deal with the changing climate.

A recent news article originally from the Washington Post identifies one possible way to handle the effect climate change will have on infrastructure in particular in housing. The article outlines a movement in the home-building industry to build climate change resilient homes. The movement takes building efficiency a step further with a proactive approach to creating durable homes that can withstand extreme weather events. Some features of the homes making them more durable are that they don’t have wood details which dry out, crack and age over time and they instead utilise plastic as it can survive in elements and maintain functionality.

The article also identifies some key considerations for building a resilient home:

  • Build above ground to avoid water intrusion into the lower level and lessen potential radon infiltration.
  • Make sure your builder uses a high-quality house wrap to protect against damaging wind and rain that can penetrate exterior siding.
  • Use drywall panels that are specially treated to resist mould, mildew, moisture and fire.
  • Incorporate proper building orientation and daylighting strategies to ensure natural light and comfortable interior temperatures during a power outage.

Clearly there is no “one-size fits all approach to creating resilient homes” as natural disasters vary region by region. However; the article poses some food for thought at potential ways of creating more sustainable and durable homes. Identifying region specific risks and designing with these risks in mind may help to create more sustainable homes and begin to manage the potential effects that climate change may have on infrastructure.

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