(May 22, 2020)
Global infrastructure and health systems continue to be taxed to the max in recent weeks, but that hardly comes as a surprise to many experts who have long sounded the alarm on the planet’s lack of readiness to withstand increasingly common extreme events.
Jonathan Kraatz, executive director of the USGBC Texas Chapter in Dallas said that firming up buildings and hardware is the starting point and a critical piece of how society survives.
The key is strengthening infrastructure before things go dark. Especially since Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Harvey, more cities are starting to become more intentional about resilience.
At the higher levels of development, he said there is more movement toward creating distributed energy grids, sometimes called microgrids. Microgrids lessen the impact if one source of energy is taken out by distributing that resource to smaller-scale options.
Cities are also considering more on-site generation, either through solar or other generation methods to power smaller grid areas. Those approaches being designed, coming online, and placed into buildings where they can better withstand extreme events. While generators were placed at ground level in the past, more builders are moving backup power higher up to make it more likely to withstand natural disasters.
“Usually, it’s above the second floor,” Kraatz said. “A lot of the backup power generation and data storage were placed in basements of buildings, particularly in hospitals and structures that suffered under Katrina and hurricanes. What part of the building floods first?”
During tough times, hardening resilience and creating redundancies for infrastructure keeps society running smoothly.