Building and designing for climate change

It’s hard to deny the reality concerning our climate and environment. If you’re concerned about future-proofing your home, you need to consider more than just keeping your home and the people therein safe and dry. You need to think beyond having alternate sources of energy and entertainment. As things worsen — which we hope wouldn’t happen, but it’s great to be prepared anyway — wise homeowners should be more concerned about building and designing durable homes that can withstand extreme weather conditions. 

It all starts with choosing the ideal location. Do not build in areas that are prone to flooding (low-lying areas) and earthquakes (near fault lines), storm surges, extreme humidity, and so on. 

Anticipate the possible problems that your home might face in the future and build/design accordingly. Rob Dumont, one of the designers of the Saskatchewan Conservation House that was built in the ’70s and inspired the original German Passivhaus/Passive House trend, said that it is better to build a simple home that does the job well. 

Dumont says that passive home design, as opposed to automation or dependence on moving/mechanical systems, is better as far as resiliency is concerned. Passive cooling or heating, as well as natural lighting, are better because they are not likely to break down, they are more affordable, and they don’t require energy or power to operate. If you must have these conveniences, make sure that they can be operated manually or by stored energy during a power outage.

In the Philippines, flooding is a common problem. As mentioned above, one’s first line of defense against flooding is to not build in flood-prone areas. Aside from this, one can decide to build or design the home in such a way that water is prevented from entering the structure. Ask the experts for technical advice on construction or remodeling.  There are a few things you can do, like installing drains around the base of footings and sloping the ground away from foundation walls to prevent stormwater from going in.

We’re living in a time when the things you don’t see are more important than the external aspects like paint color and furnishing. This means prioritizing the integrity of the structure itself, before aesthetics. Homeowners need to think far into the future and consider how their homes — their legacy, really — can last a long time to benefit their children and even their grandkids.