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Among the benefits of focusing on both resilience and sustainability are those that accrue to the community at large. But helping the community has benefits for the organization as well. Indeed, says Douglas Pierce, senior project architect, Perkins + Will, when organizations participate in and contribute to the community, it creates a more resilient, sustainable community on the whole.
Alex Wilson, president, Resilient Design Institute, agrees: “More resilient buildings help make more resilient communities,” he says. “Look at modifying your community to make it more resilient. A resilient community is more walk-able and bike-able. It’s less dependent on automobiles, which is important if gasoline is unavailable.” Wilson suggests that denser, mixed-use neighborhoods, where workplaces are co-located with living spaces, is the way for a community to be both more resilient and more sustainable.
Pierce advocates that organizations buy local products to ensure the local economy is thriving, which builds long-term economic resilience and helps recovery time.
He also recommends using the building as community space to build a relationship with the community. Provide space for a community vegetable garden, for instance, or provide community meeting rooms. Most importantly, perhaps, designate space in the building for recovery in the event of a disaster, including stocking necessary supplies, like food, water, and medical supplies. “After a storm, people need a place to come together and recover,” says Pierce. “Help be a place where people can organize and respond.”
As well, concentrate on diversity, he says. This includes multi-lingual signage, gender neutral restrooms, mother’s rooms, etc. These amenities provide for a diverse workspace and a diverse workforce, he says. “Resilience thrives on diversity of all kinds,” he says. “That means energy, water, cultural, and knowledge diversity. Support diversity in your operations — it’s always a good thing.”
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