Green building techniques can improve resiliency in climate change-related disasters including earthquakes, tornadoes, finds report by USGBC, University of Michigan

WASHINGTON , February 29, 2012 (press release) – Report unveiled during National Leadership Speaker Series;
FEMA Administrator Fugate emphasizes importance of green buildings in disaster preparedness

Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the University of Michigan's Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning released a landmark report that describes how green buildings advance resiliency in disasters. The report was released during the National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and National Security in the 21st Century, hosted by USGBC and ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA.

The report, titled Green Building and Climate Resilience: Understanding Impacts and Preparing for Changing Conditions, describes potential adaptive strategies available to green building practitioners. These strategies add an important new dimension to green building's long-standing focus on reducing greenhouse gases through energy efficiency and renewable and low-carbon energy supplies.

"Every building is designed for a specific range of conditions, such as peak temperature, storm surge and average precipitation," said Dr. Chris Pyke, Vice President of Research at USBGC. "Climate change has the potential to undermine some of these assumptions and potentially increase risks to people and property. Fortunately, there are practical steps we can take to understand and prepare for the consequences of changing environmental conditions and reduce potential impacts. This can help green buildings meet and exceed expectations for comfort and performance long into the future."

Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also spoke at the National Press Club as part of the event and emphasized the importance of green buildings in disaster preparedness. Fugate urged leaders from major corporations, government, academia, the scientific community and civil society to help advance green building as a complementary strategy to address pre- and post-emergency management situations, ultimately forging more resilient communities.

"In the wake of last year's disaster activity, with tornadoes across the southwest, flooding from Hurricane Irene and even an earthquake on the East Coast, it is important that we develop and enforce safe and sustainable building codes to make our communities more resilient, and to protect lives and property in times of disaster," said Fugate. "Green building practices, resiliency of our communities and emergency management priorities are not mutually exclusive."

The report, which identifies the deep synergies between green building and resiliency, advances several firsts in the field, such as:

  • Examining the implications of climate change for green building and identifies opportunities for resilience through the design, construction, and operation of buildings and communities
  • Analyzing how individual LEED credits support regional adaptation needs, such as enhanced water conversation in arid climates and water-sensitive regions
  • Demonstrating how consideration of climate resilience in buildings can increase the likelihood of achieving performance goals throughout the lifetime of a project
"Through extensive study, examination and practice, the green building movement continues to drive the development and use of proven building strategies for a sustainable and resilient future," said Dr. Jason Hartke, Vice President of National Policy at USGBC. "We commend Administrator Fugate and his colleagues in the Obama Administration who are advancing this 'no-regrets' resiliency agenda - showing the benefit of incorporating appropriate disaster preparation and prevention strategies in the built environment and leading efforts to develop the necessary tools and resources to rebound smarter, greener and better when disasters do strike."

The National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and National Security in the 21st Century serves as a forum for promoting a strategic vision for "resiliency" and features keynote speakers who are playing a leadership role in creating a safer, stronger and more sustainable future. This installment was generously supported by Ingersoll Rand.

Access the report at usgbc.org.

About the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
The U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. With a community comprising 79 local affiliates, nearly 16,000 member organizations, and more than 167,000 LEED Professional Credential holders, USGBC is the driving force of an industry that is projected to contribute $554 billion to the U.S. GDP from 2009-2013. USGBC leads an unlikely diverse constituency of builders and environmentalists, corporations and nonprofit organizations, elected officials and concerned citizens, and teachers and students. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI USA)
ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA is the leading nonprofit organization devoted to local governments engaged in sustainability, climate protection, and clean energy initiatives. The local governments we serve-including 600 active U.S. members-recognize the importance of creating livable, prosperous communities, addressing climate change, and saving energy and money in the process. ICLEI USA provides the expertise, technical support, training, and tools to help its members advance their goals. Visit icleiusa.org for more information.

About University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
Taubman College seeks to improve the human condition through thoughtful design and planning for the built environment. Its academic programs prepare graduates for positions of responsibility within a wide spectrum of professions, organizations, and institutions that shape the built environment at scales ranging from local to global. In pursuit of these ideals for over 100 years, the college offers students a complement of disciplinary and interdisciplinary degree programs in architecture and urban and regional planning at one of the world's largest research universities. www.taubmancollege.umich.edu.


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