The recent series of natural disasters across the Caribbean has left many homeless. Neighbourhoods, cities, entire populations, are a blank slate. Islands are completely devastated and are awaiting an urgent rebuild.
While hurricanes are natural weather events, the severity and frequency of the recent hurricanes have left many asking questions. Is it indeed a result of climate change caused by global warming? Now is the perfect time to readdress how we construct these communities, and if we can do so in such a way to decrease or potentially diminish the need for this kind of mass-rebuild in the future.
Construction Caribbean takes a closer look at ‘How can we use green building to begin to reverse or immobilise the effects of climate change?’ and ‘How can we build to withstand natural disasters?’
A green building is a building that from design to construction and operation it uses resources wisely in order to create a high quality, healthier and more energy-efficient home with minimum impact on our enviroment.
Though the initial investment may be a bit higher than traditional build, all green initiatives ‘pay-back’ these costs and more over the building’s lifetime. Some basic elements of green architecture include:
USE OF LOW-IMPACT, SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
- Recycled building materials:
Select recycled materials such as carpet, countertops, paint, and tile. Select insulation with recycled-content such as cellulose insulation.
- Sustainably harvested materials:
Purchase from certified companies whose materials are sustainably sourced. Know your environmental footprint.
- Recycled construction waste:
Attempt to recycle a minimum of 50% of the wood, cardboard, and concrete left over from your construction project
WATER COLLECTION AND CONSERVATION
- Water-efficient fixtures:
Install low-flow sink, shower, toilet and washer fixtures
- Water collection systems:
Consider rain water collection to use for toilets or additional filtration systems for showers
- Orientation/Passive solar gain:
Proper orientation of a building, windows and interior spaces can strategically maximize daylight to avoid the over-use of artificial lighting and save on electricity costs
- Energy Efficient Windows:
Double glazing in a hot climate can slash your energy bills and greenhouse emissions. The coating of low-gain Low E glass reduces the amount of heat radiated from the inner surface of the glass, keeping the inside of your home cooler.
- Solar Shading:
Use strategic placed exterior shading to avoid overheating within the household
- Passive ventilation:
Consider cross and stacked ventilation in the design process to naturally cool your home
- Efficient water heating:
Incorporate solar panels for water heating
- Lighting technologies
Consider the use of LED lamps as they use less energy compared to incandescent
- Solar electricity:
Energy efficient solar electric systems can offset electrical costs
- Wind electricity
Small, quiet, wind energy systems are available for powering homes
These initiatives will result in both economic and environmental benefits such as:
- Lowered utility bills
- Improved energy performance
- Less greenhouse gas emissions
The disasters that come with climate change didn’t manifest in a day. Therefore, they cannot be relinquished in such a short period by green build initiatives. Because of this, it is vital that our next step be to start building better disaster-proof homes. Such considerations include, but are not limited to:
- Curved walls and surfaces
Maybe it’s time to consider your home taking on a less traditional form. Deltec homes have been building pre-fabricated storm-resistant round homes since 1968. Their shape makes them more aerodynamic, with 30% less wind pressure build-up on exterior walls than on a rectangular home.
- Building Elevation
Elevate your home to protect against flooding
ROOF TO FOUNDATION
- Consider roof types:
Hip roofs with a 30° slope perform better than pitched roofs under high-pressure winds. Each side of a hip roof leans back against and supports the neighbouring sides of the roof.
Shorter overhang eaves prevent damage from the uplift winds experienced during a hurricane.
- Durable roof systems & layering:
A TPO membrane can provide strong resistance to tears, punctures and impact damage.
- Sturdy wall to Foundation connections:
Deltec homes are also built with metal reinforcing straps that tie the entire roof structure down all the way to the foundation, preventing water and wind penetration.
IMPACT RESISTANT WINDOWS AND ROOFING
- Windproof shutters:
These can be added as fixtures for rapid closing or pre-made and stored to be nailed in place before a storm strikes
- Well sealed, durable framing:
Aluminium window frames in place of wooden frames to avoid rotting
- Impact proof windows:
Another housing option on the market is Cubicco’s modular, hurricane-proof homes can be built for less than $200,000 and are designed to withstand high-velocity winds of up to 180 mph. Each home incorporates impact-resistance CGI windows (and even sliding doors) using laminated glass and durable aluminium frames to provide protection against airborne debris.
What can our Caribbean architects, engineers, contractors and other related services, design and build for our communities to better withstand such severe weather systems, preventing extensive devastation in the future while protecting our environment from further climate change?
Green and Resilient Building Resources:-
Architects and Architectural Design
Civil & Excavation Works
Green and Sustainable Building
Windows and Doors
Decorative Concrete Finishes
Climate change is real. We all need to work together to leave a sustainable planet for the next generation.