US government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars in insurance claims and community reconstruction caused by various natural disasters over the past decade. These natural disasters included wildfires, storms, and hurricanes including Irma, Maria, and Harvey, etc. It is high time that builders and construction companies work on building resilient and sustainable buildings and communities. According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, disaster recovery cost approximately $91 billion to the government to compensate for the losses caused by 14 natural disasters alone in 2018.

Climate change is inevitable and so are natural disasters. It is up to the builders to help the United States government save money on community reconstruction after a disaster. The builders should implement advanced resilient construction techniques using updated building codes. Two major factors to be considered by the builders is to identify both the location and construction material. The consumers are now well aware of the catastrophic effects caused by natural disasters and are willing to pay more for resilient homes.

Role And Responsibilities Of Builders To Help The US Government

  • Integration and utilization of energy-efficient and resilient materials and technologies in both construction and rehabilitation processes.
  • Finding long-term solutions by constructing high-performance buildings to save cost, energy, and resources.
  • Reduction in carbon footprint and waste production caused because of the damage done by a natural disaster.
  • Green and eco-friendly construction campaign among the consumers and clients to opt for green construction material.
  • Opting for small houses that use effective use of the spaces as small houses are more eco-friendly than the bigger ones.
  • Improving insulation to regulate house temperature. It saves energy consumption effectively decreasing the environmental footprint of the buildings. Insulation can be done in roofing, doors, windows, and walls.
  • Ensuring the use of sustainable and affordable material in construction for example making of iron frames from recycled copper slag.
  • Use of modular structure construction in case of housing community reconstruction after a natural disaster to save resources, money, and time.

Resilient Efforts By builders

  • Seismic resilience: The builders can use plywood or concrete as bracing material to add to the strength of the houses’ foundations. Stronger foundations reduce the impact of shock waves caused by earthquakes.
  • Hurricane resilience: The use of multi-pane windows mitigates the risk of glass breakage by wind pressure. Besides, to save the house from the flying debris, the houses must be made of concrete with insulated walls.
  • Flood resilience: Elevated homes and the use of sustainable construction material can save houses from floods and rainstorms. The user of timber walls makes the houses flood-proof and storm resilient.

How To Construct Resilient Homes?

The builders can choose to use structural timber to create the baseline house structure. Timber is more durable and stronger as compared to the standard wood used in the construction. The structure is created by glueing timber under pressure into laminated posts and beams. The idea is to create an extremely strong and rigid house structure using precision and quality products.

A strong roof protects the house from high-speed winds, rainwater, and flying debris. One of the best practices by builders to strengthen the roof is the use of ring-shank nails to secure roof sheathing. Other options include the use of drip edges for underlayment protection and strength. The roof structure is held together and secured with metal straps.

Boral roofing concept is about using concrete tiles with each tile measurement of 17 by 13 inches. One complete roof weighs approximately 1000 pounds. It is considered perfect insulation against fire and water. Boral roofing involves one-time cost but guarantees long-term durability and resilience.

Resilient Construction Practices

  • Flash and seal walls, roofs, and structure
  • Use of hurricane straps
  • Elevated Foundations one foot above base flood elevation (BFE)
  • Pan flashing at doors as well as windows
  • Fire-resistant roofing
  • Brace gable end walls with roof projections
  • Stainless-steel locking nuts
  • Elevated water heaters and outdoor HVAC equipment
  • Solid-state lighting
  • Triple pane windows for insulation from heat and cold waves
  • Water-saving fixtures including low flow faucets in toilets
  • Mechanical penthouse on rooftop
  • Backup or emergency generator mechanism
  • Saferoom and storm shelter
  • Storm-resilient photovoltaic (PV) system

Energy-Saving Techniques In Resilient Community

It is important to understand the fact that energy-efficient techniques should be incorporated in constructing resilient buildings. Energy savings not only save cost but also enhances the overall durability of the buildings. On one hand, energy-saving technology saves the operational cost but on the other hand, it adds to the resistance towards any kind of natural disaster. Moreover, if the builders opt for using renewable energy resources, it certainly reduces the overall impact on the environment thus mitigating the chances of occurrence of natural disasters.

The green communities that use solar panels to generate their electricity have significantly lesser loads on the electrical grid stations. This lesser load is highly efficient in case of any natural disaster by minimizing the overall negative impact of either extreme cold or heat. Similarly, insulated walls protect the houses from extreme cold temperatures and reduce the risk of water being frozen in the water pipes.

Energy-efficient technology includes:

  • Insulations
  • Air and water sealing
  • Daylighting and solar panels
  • Air conditioning and heating systems
  • Water heating process

Final Thoughts

It is vital for the builders to adopt and implement resilient building codes to existing codes to enhance the protection of the buildings. The houses should be hazard-resistant especially in the places prone to natural disaster occurrences. In this way, the builders can work together with the US government to save billions of dollars on reconstruction and disaster recovery. The lesser the waste produced during the construction process, the lesser is the damage done to the environment.  The construction trends are now shifting to sustainable and green building solutions using recycled material and renewable energy sources. Moreover, the modular construction process should be adopted in case of rehabilitation to save cost and time.