A new report by a building materials manufacturer, developed with the Pennsylvania State University’s architectural engineering department, emphasizes the need to redefine infrastructure strategy to integrate elements of sustainability and high-performance buildings.
According to the report, the forms of the resilience challenge are diverse, including climate change, disease pandemics, economic fluctuations, and terrorism. Communities, specifically in urban areas that are expected to house nearly 70 percent of the earth’s population by 2050, were not designed to handle the impacts.
Traditionally, the built environment was designed to be fail-safe. But, the report asserts, as catastrophic events become more intense and frequent, fail-safe is no longer possible; infrastructure instead must be designed to be safe to fail.
Scott Foster, director of the sustainable energy division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, wrote in the report’s preface: “Resilience has now become integral to life quality within the built environment and is consequently an important element in the overall sustainable energy equation.”
Prioritizing and meeting the complex resilience challenge will require engagement from a variety of stakeholders, including local and national governments, which need to adopt policies to develop long-term climate and energy plans.