Safe Human Settlement Policy Initiative

Safe Human Settlement Policy Initiative

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Whole Building Design Guide

Just a note regarding an excellent overview from a publication by the National Institute of Building Sciences with links to resources regarding location and construction characteristics of safe habitation.  The link to The Guide is here.  The guide says:

Only after the overall risk is fully understood should mitigation measures be identified, prioritized, and implemented. Basic principles underlying this process include:
  • Hazard mitigation is at the core of disaster resistance and supports achieving resilience... Mitigation is an essential part of ensuring continuity of businesses, schools, government facilities, utilities, and communities following hazard events.
  • Unsustainable development also is one of the major factors in the rising costs of natural disasters. Many mitigation design strategies and technologies serve double duty, by not only preventing or reducing disaster losses but serving the broader goal of long-term community sustainability. For example, land use regulations prohibiting development in flood-prone areas may also help preserve the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains.
  • Mitigation serves to attenuate the cascading effects where hazard events degrade an asset, or community of assets, then such degradations propagate throughout the asset, or community of assets. During this propagation of degradations, additional hazards might be created, thus further increasing the rate and magnitude of functional degradations of assets.
  • Unanticipated interactions from concurrent or sequential multi-hazard events (dependent or independent; natural, man-made or accidental) may result in a compounded impact with cascading effects and previously unconsidered consequences. Such consequences may be further amplified by outside factors such as poor maintenance of assets, or failure to increase infrastructure capacity with rising demand. Failure to follow an interdependent multi-hazard resilience strategy considering cascading effects may result in unanticipated and costly consequences from an asset-based perspective, and from corresponding effects projected into the community.
  • The impacts of natural hazards and the costs of the disasters they cause will be reduced whether mitigation measures are implemented during new construction (preventively) or as retrofits (correctively). Proactively integrating mitigation measures into new construction is typically more economically feasible than retrofitting existing structures.
  • Risk reduction techniques must address as many applicable hazards as possible. This approach, known as all-hazard mitigation, is the most cost-effective approach, maximizes the protective effect of complementary mitigation measures and optimizes all-hazard design techniques with other building technologies.
  • High-performance buildings should be designed to adopt strategies that exceed model building code requirements for disaster resistance.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Maryland's Coast Smart Design Guidelines

Just a timely reminder of an important and timely issue sent to institutions of the University System of Maryland today.

The Maryland Coast Smart Design Guidelines address flooding from all sources.  The Coast Smart Council issued its 2016 final report this week.  The program is summarized in a section that begins on page 4 of the report, here (link).

The Brendan Iribe building at the University of Maryland College Park is featured on page 17 of the report. While the project is being constructed outside the 100 year flood plain, its proximity to the Paint Branch and the potential for flooding encouraged the planning team to adopt a number of Coast Smart design elements that will serve the facility well in the future.

Most of you are aware of the 2014 legislation that established the Coast Smart Council and the 2015 bill that established the basis for the Council’s design guidelines for State projects, here (link).

Obviously, the most effective prevention against a potential flooding problem is to locate a new facility (where possible) outside the impacted area.  This should be a critical consideration during the master planning process.  The State also requires that Coast Smart design be considered during the programming process.  The report says:

The language DBM has incorporated into the Facility Program Manual, Part II, page 34, is as follows:  “All facility programs shall comply with the Coast Smart Construction Program under the Coast Smart Council in the Department of Natural Resources, created by House Bill 615-Section 3-1001-3-1004 (2014) to establish Coast Smart Infrastructure siting and design criteria to address sea level rise and coastal flood impacts on capital projects.”

Finally, page 18 of the report includes information and resources for working with communities.  Those of you whose campuses experience somewhat regular flooding may wish to use some of these tools in conjunction with your local governments to address the larger, common problem.

Regardless, I thought the report offered some useful ideas and examples.

[Photo source: Referenced report.]