These days, it’s hard not to hear about the potentially devastating impact of climate change on our environment and our lives. This is a good change from ignoring the problem altogether, but combating the issue as an individual may seem overwhelming. We’ve banned plastic straws, incentivized the use of reusable cups, encouraged the consumption of sustainably sourced goods, and that’s just for our morning coffee. How can we make big, impactful changes that will actually benefit our lives and the future environment? Choosing the right architect for your renovation project is one decision you can make that will have a lasting impact on the environment and the future generations that will occupy the space.
This decision can have a two-fold impact. The first is to design with resilience in mind. This refers to the building’s ability to overcome new dangers that the changing climate will impose. The architect should consider the outsized risk of more intense storms, heavier rainfall, and more damaging wildfires. How can the building be renovated to withstand these elevated threats for years to come? Options include designing with natural ventilation, harvesting rainwater, and including plans for sustainable landscaping. Each site has its own unique environmental hurdles, and the plan to conquer them should be just as unique.
The next aspect to consider is to design with adaption is mind. As the environment changes, so do the risks. The solutions identified above might not be the ideal solutions ten years from now. It’s important for your architect to consider proactive ways in which your renovation can easily adapt to new or changing threats, rather than implementing them reactively after disaster strikes. This can involve positioning resilient infrastructure that can adapt to incremental change as new solutions become available.
Designing with both resilience and adaptation in mind allows us to not only mitigate factors contributing to climate change, such as reducing greenhouse gas and building with sustainably sourced materials, but also helps us create structures built to last. Saving our environment is a huge task that each person can contribute to either positively or negatively. Fortunately, architects have several options at their disposal to not only mitigate certain environmental impacts during renovations they lead now, but will allow their future inhabitants to reduce their impact as well.
Photo Caption: KG+D Architects, PC. Middletown High School Innovation Labs – Middletown, NY
The central innovation lab has a green roof, brings light into the interior space through clerestory windows, and offeres ancillary classroom spaces, makers spaces and a conference center.