Six Critical Considerations for Climate Proofing Infrastructure

Climate change is a global phenomenon, and it is now accepted that human activities have contributed to an increase in the rate of change. Changes in climate have impacts on the environment, agriculture, human health, and our infrastructure. This is changing how we live and work.

How do we ensure our built environments remain fit for purpose as our climate evolves?

The answer is to climate-proof infrastructure.

Why We Need to Care About Climate Resilience

We should be aware that climate change is happening now, not just in the future. This means that we need to take action now before it’s too late. We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which will mean preparing for extreme weather events like hurricanes and floods, as well as the effects on society like food shortages and mass migrations of people.

We need to care about climate resilience because it will help us prepare for the future. We need to make sure that our infrastructure is strong enough to withstand the effects of global warming, and that it supports our society to adapt quickly enough to survive.

Therefore, it is crucial that we invest in climate resilience and take measures that will help us to mitigate the effects of climate change on our infrastructure. If we do not, we risk losing our way of life.

What is climate-resilient infrastructure?

The idea behind climate-resilient infrastructure is that our infrastructure and built environment should be resilient to current and future changes in our climate. The design of buildings, homes, transport systems, and so on should take into account the potentially extreme weather conditions that they might experience, such as heavy rain, high winds, and flooding. 

For example, a climate-proof building is designed to be resistant to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly as well as more resilient in the face of natural disasters. These buildings:

  • Are designed with a focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources

  • Have high insulation values and be well sealed against air infiltration and water vapor diffusion

  • Have good thermal mass properties, which means they maintain a stable internal temperature without much fluctuation in response to external changes in temperature or humidity levels

  • Benefit from natural ventilation systems that help regulate indoor temperatures by using natural airflow patterns within the building

Key considerations for constructing climate-resilient infrastructure

When designing and constructing climate-resilient urban landscapes, we must take into account many factors. 

For example, climate-resilient urban landscapes must be designed in a way that the design meets the needs of people, while also functioning well and being environmentally friendly. We must also remember that environmental sustainability is achieved when the economic, social, and environmental goals of a city are met. Ways in which we can do this include sustainable procurement, sustainable resource management, and greening of buildings.

Whatever strategies we employ to improve the climate resilience of our infrastructure, the following six key considerations should be integral in the design and construction process:

  1. The role of government

The role of government in climate-resilient infrastructure is to provide support to private sector investments and innovation, as well as to ensure that public funds are spent on climate-resilient infrastructure. This can be done through policies such as regulation, incentives, research and development (R&D), and funding.

  1. The role of the private sector

The private sector plays a vital role in the development of climate-resilient infrastructure. Private sector investment and the availability of financing can help to promote the transition to a low-carbon economy.

For example, private sector companies are now actively investing in technologies that can help them to combat climate change, as well as making buildings more energy efficient or shifting to cleaner sources of energy. 

The private sector is one of the most important players when it comes to addressing climate change and building climate-resilient infrastructure.

  1. Economic factors

Economic factors can be defined as ‘the production and consumption of goods and services’, which is what most people associate with economics. But it also includes things like taxes, interest rates, and inflation. The cost of materials for construction is also an economic factor that plays a significant role in how much money will be spent on building infrastructure that is resilient to long-term climate change.

  1. Information gaps

Information gaps can be seen as a barrier to climate-resilient infrastructure. For example, information gaps can include a lack of knowledge about the impacts of climate change on infrastructure, a lack of knowledge about how to build and maintain sustainable infrastructure, and insufficient information on the costs associated with climate change.

  1. Managing uncertainty

Managing uncertainty is a key strategy for climate-resilient infrastructure. As the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent, we need to be prepared to face uncertainties in the future. The best way to do that is by managing the uncertainties before they happen, so we can be better prepared for any changes that might happen in the future.

To manage uncertainty more effectively, we must make use of robust design strategies and adaptive strategies, and employ suitable risk management strategies.

Robust design strategies are based on the assumption that the future climate is similar to what we have experienced in the past. Adaptive strategies assume that there will be changes in the future, but they don’t know what those changes will be. Risk management strategy assumes that there will be changes in the future, and they can predict how those changes might affect their project.

  1. Balancing priorities

One of the most important aspects of developing resilient infrastructure design is balancing priorities. Our priorities are to ensure that:

  • The infrastructure can withstand climate change

  • It is an effective use of resources and does not hinder economic growth

Balancing these two priorities can be difficult, but there are some ways to do it. One way is to use renewable materials that are easier to maintain and have lower operating costs than traditional materials. Another way is by using natural systems like wetlands or forests which can help reduce flooding or provide shade from the sun.

Key Takeaways

Climate change is a global issue. It is not just about the weather, but it has a deeper impact on our lives. We rely on our infrastructure daily. Therefore, infrastructure needs to be resilient to climate change and needs to be adaptive.

It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure we create a resilient infrastructure. When designing our urban landscapes, we must take all measures possible to ensure environmental sustainability and resilience against natural disasters, as well as construct infrastructure in a way that helps to reduce our human impact on our natural climate.

At ACB Consulting, we are committed to helping improve the communities in which we live, work, and play – including how they are conceived, designed and created. To leverage our experience in sustainable design and construction, contact ACB Consulting.

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