How To Focus on Resilience in Existing Buildings

  June 25, 2015

Much of the coverage and research regarding resilience in facilities has been about how to design and construct new buildings to withstand climate change-resultant disasters. While certainly design and building resilient new buildings is a worthy and necessary pursuit, what about our enormous stock of existing buildings?

So how can existing buildings be made more resilient — that is, how can facilities be upgraded to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes, drought, a downed energy grid, etc.? And how does resilience intersect the concept of high-performance?

The answer to the latter, at its most base, is quite simple: A building can't be high-performance if it ceases to exist. So working on making buildings resilient is a new imperative for facility managers. Whether resilience falls under the umbrella of adaptation, emergency preparedness, risk management, or all of the above, facility managers

The answer to how existing buildings can be made resilient is a bit more nuanced. Strategies will depend on a number of factors — including location of a building, relative probability of various natural disasters, contracts with disaster recovery vendors, and, of course, budget. Resilience can include everything from installing a heavier roofing material to ensure mass notification systems or working properly to testing emergency generation at a regular frequency.

Indeed, for existing buildings, considering resilience yields a to-do checklist that almost literally never ends. You can't do a bunch of stuff, decide you're resilient, and call it a day. Like most things in facility management, resilience is a constantly moving target. But the important thing is that this idea, like high-performance itself, is always top-of-mind for facility managers.


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