The Effects of Climate Change on Building Design

The Effects of Climate Change on Building Design

Climate change is one of the most serious issues we’re facing as a global community. The sudden changes in weather patterns that we are experiencing can attest to that fact. With unpredictable severe weather conditions such as wildfires and flash floods, engineers and architects are thinking of new ways to design buildings and develop urban communities.

It is no longer as simple as calling experienced sidewalk paving contractors in Kansas City or Houston to fix a cracked pavement due to extreme humidity levels. Architecture is adapting to the world’s weather conditions.

Global Warming’s Effects on Buildings and Structures

Buildings are vulnerable to the elements brought about by climate change. Its prolonged exposure to heat and humidity or the battering of strong storms and hail all take away from a structure’s integrity in the long term.

Roads and pavements, on the other hand, are at a huge risk with heavier and more frequent rains. Rainwater must be directed away from them to protect their durability, maximize passability for road users, and avoid aquaplaning.

While most major cities have fully functional drainage and sewage systems, smaller towns and counties are not as well-equipped to handle volumes of floodwater brought about by massive rains. Most have sewage systems that are just the right size for its population without any extra allowance for sudden massive surges of water.

Bridges and tunnels are also affected by climate change. The rising sea levels make tunnels more vulnerable now while a bridge’s integrity is gradually being compromised by extreme weather conditions.

Adapting Architecture to Climate Change

pouring rain on the roof

With the construction industry contributing 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and consuming about 40 percent of all the energy used worldwide, it is now faced with the challenge of adapting the way they work to combat climate change.

Engineers and designers are now forced to think of new ways to build without compromising resiliency with aesthetics. They are now taking steps to come up with designs that are climate-responsive and resilient.

Gone are the days when putting major electrical infrastructure underground was the norm. The climate-responsive architecture uses the typical design considerations such as building orientation and site topography and adds environmental factors (rainfall, humidity, and wind) and climate data (weather patterns and temperature) to its list.

Technology has now allowed designers and builders to identify more sustainable building materials to use. Designing buildings that conserve precious resources and are energy efficient are now made easier by advanced computer software.

Building codes are now being updated to consider frequent extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change. Risk analyses are now carried out regularly, mapping out potential installation floodings using present data collected over a five- to ten-year period.

A sustainable building design begins with a better understanding of the climate of the site. Climate-responsive architecture and modern technological advancements allow builders and designers to test, analyze, and improve building design. That means architectural performance, such as airflow ventilation, energy consumption, water use, and solar radiation can be fully optimized even before laying down a single brick.