What is resilient home design?

Resilient homes are designed to be able to withstand—or quickly recover from—natural disasters, extreme weather, and other kinds of risks. The risks your home may face depend on your location—for example, you may live in a coastal area that is prone to flooding or in a neighborhood that loses power for long periods. Use a publicly available resource like riskfactor.com to evaluate your home’s risk of damage from extreme events, then set a plan for improvement to mitigate those risks with a home improvement contractor.

How does resilience relate to sustainability?

Many of the elements of a resilient home also decrease the home’s energy consumption. Thus, an ideal time to think about building resilience is when energy efficiency improvements are being made or home systems are being electrified. In some cases, the improvements themselves will increase resilience without any added effort; in other cases, thoughtful design choices for home improvement projects can result in improved resilience. Upgrading the envelope through air sealing and insulating, for example, can help with extreme heat and cold, extended power outages, indoor humidity, and preventing pipes from freezing. With an improved envelope, your home can stay comfortable longer during a power outage that cuts off heating or cooling. If you have backup battery power, your home can coast without utility service for longer.

An improved envelope also reduces the risk of roof or basement leaks or other moisture infiltration. This can help you avoid costly repairs due to ice dams, rot, or other damage. It can also help avoid the unhealthy growth of mold.

If you are decarbonizing your home’s heating and hot water equipment, placing the new equipment out of low-lying basement areas or otherwise protecting them from flooding can have added resilience benefits. Building back-up power into the design will allow the equipment to run during power outages.

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