house with storm coming

Sustainable Building to Help Homes Endure Severe Weather

Photo by Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

The issues the environment faces will continue growing in upcoming years — severe weather is one of those problems. Severe weather like hurricanes, floods, blizzards and earthquakes can easily topple buildings or structures.

Better preparation and planning, though, can introduce practical construction techniques that become preventative measures. With new strategies for construction, communities can better protect themselves against harsh threats. 

Additionally, sustainability is a top priority throughout the world. As our world continues to endure the negative effects of climate change, architects and civil engineers will want to find the most environmentally-friendly methods to protect communities against severe weather. 

1. Sustainable Building Methods

The first technique architecture and construction can benefit from is green, sustainable building methods. Climate change is an existential threat, and you’ve probably seen more pressure for green building lately. Eco-friendly construction can combat climate change in two different ways. 

First, construction contributes to nearly 40% of global greenhouse gases annually. Processes like cement mixing and burning fossil fuels emit great deals of carbon emissions, and COhas been the leading greenhouse gas for years. New building techniques can reduce the number of gases generated during production and manufacturing — sustainable energy and cement alternatives are viable options. 

Next, climate change is bringing about more severe weather than ever. Communities will need to prepare as best they can for impending storms and natural disasters. Combining sustainable building in both senses — eco-friendly and durability — will bring the most efficient results. 

2. Glass

Windows — and other glass structures — are one of the most dangerous areas to be near during a hurricane. Standard glass can easily shatter due to extreme winds and injure you or your loved ones. Newer forms of glass, however, are helping in this area. 

Impact glass is the same type that car manufacturers use. It doesn’t shatter as easily as regular glass — thus, it can offer better protection from strong winds. 

The second type is bendable glass. Researchers at McGill University developed this glass in 2014. So far, it has been slow to take off. But thanks to embedded microfissures, it can bend without breaking, and it is proven to be 200 times stronger than standard glass. 

3. Hydrostatic Vents

Hurricanes, storms and snowmelt can cause severe flooding. With excess flooding, water pressure from outside or inside the home can cause the foundation to weaken or crumble. If you live somewhere prone to hurricanes, you may already know about hydrostatic vents. 

These kinds of vents offer a simple building technique that can go a long way. The vents sit at the bottom of the house’s foundation — where it meets the ground. Then, if flooding occurs, the vents allow the water to flow in and out to balance pressure. 

If there’s too much water inside the house, the foundation can give way — the same concept applies water outside the home. Hydrostatic vents, however, provide an excellent solution for flooding during extreme weather.

4. Wooden Trusses

A truss is an exposed structure that transfers the balance of support across a building or load. When flooding or storms occur, moisture gets into the home. This issue can cause mold, which erodes the foundation. An open web wood truss can eliminate this problem. 

This kind of truss has openings, like a web, allowing air to flow in and out. Since it doesn’t trap the moisture, it will dry quicker and lead to less structural damage. The wood’s clever composition prevents extreme weather from destroying your home’s foundation. Additionally, since this sturdy structure is meant for the ceiling, there’s less of a chance moisture will reach it. 

5. Concrete 

The previous techniques generally lean towards sustainable innovations — a necessary step since sustainability is one of the main trends impacting construction and building. Concrete, however, is an area of concern. Concrete uses cement, and cement production emits significant levels of CO2. This factor is why newer forms of concrete must take over.

Self-healing cement uses bacteria within its mixture to produce limestone designed to heals cracks as they occur. This ability prevents leaks, floods and damages. It also reduces the level of concrete that goes to waste, decreasing cement use and the release of carbon emissions. 

Ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) is another sustainable version of this material. It can bend as necessary under strong winds or pressure. It’s stronger than regular concrete and consists of recycled materials, which helps contractors achieve sustainable constructions and performs even when cracking. 

6. Seawalls

Extreme weather can disproportionately affect those living along a coastline. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy caused over $70 billion in damages, hitting those near the ocean the hardest. 

Something governments, architects and engineers are investing in is seawalls. These act as mile-long barriers to prevent ocean flooding. During extreme weather, ocean waves become violent, and sea levels rise. Seawalls offer a buffer against 130 mph winds, which can serve as a protective measure for coastal homes.

Protecting Homes Against Natural Disaster

Extreme weather takes a toll no matter what type of storm or natural disaster it is. Preventing these events from destroying communities through sustainable construction is a proactive step builders can take to keep homes and individuals safe.  

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