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FMG Law Blog Line

Resilient Design: A Future Requirement?

Posted on: June 17th, 2019

By: Catherine Bednar

Today’s headlines reflect an increasing awareness of climate change and its impacts – rising sea levels, heightened flood risks, and potential wildfires, to name a few. Scientific research and political debate over the causes/effects of and policy responses to climate change will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of our news. Related to these issues, the construction field is seeing new developments in the area of resilient design.

Resilient design is the design of buildings and infrastructure to withstand events such as weather extremes, economic disruption and resource depletion.  Resilient design encompasses the anticipation of various hazards, including but not limited to those related to climate change.  Essentially, resilient design is about expecting the not-so-unexpected.

In December 2018, the U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. (“USGBC”) released its RELi™  2.0 Rating System to “help identify and reduce the risk of damage to a project in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis.” The new rating system includes many credits drawn from USGBC’s LEED certification program. RELi includes 15 mandatory requirements falling into eight separate categories: panoramic approach; hazard preparedness; hazard mitigation and adaptation; community cohesion, social and economic vitality; productivity, health and diversity; energy, water and on-site food production; materials and artifacts; and applied creativity. RELi 2.0 is currently being piloted and is available to LEED-registered projects.

In recent years, design professionals and insurance carriers have questioned whether “green” design and “sustainable” design concepts have impacted the standard of care. Going forward, we can expect to see a greater focus on “resilient” design in projects, whether through voluntary certification programs like RELi, state and local regulations and guidelines, or even professional liability claims.

For more information, please contact Catherine Bednar at [email protected].

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