Posted by Allyson Miller on June 30, 2017

Climate change may be affecting more than just the globe...

INDUSTRY TRENDS could start affecting your future designs.

Severe weather events, like floods and wildfires, are quickly becoming the norm. As the globe slowly starts to heat up,  "freak" weather outbreaks will continue to become more regular. 

With the human issue of climate change hovering over us, we need to rethink how we design buildings, infrastructures, and cities. 

Starting with urban and suburban spaces

No one could have prepared for the suburban and urban boom that occurred recently—with young people rushing back into the city, and more settled families looking to build a home in a "bedroom community." 

Before this boom, neighborhoods were designed as auto-centric, creating spaces to be most traveled by automobiles, not walkers or bikers. Cities were built to accommodate downtown living, but again, at the expense of creating walkable destinations. 

However, post-World War II auto-centric designs no longer can sustain our growing building industry and the well being of the planet. 

Moving into more green-conscious thinking is were to start. 

1. Ask Energy-Productivity Questions

Before beginning a design, question how this design choice could increase energy or if it has an energy implication.  Set an energy-conscious precedent from the start for continued sustainable design choices. 

2. View Long-Term

Plan for a building's lifecycle. Predicting and better analyzing past a building 100-year-lifespan is key to creating protection for people who live and work within them. 

3. Respond appropriately

With weather already showing us how unpredictable and devastating it can be, designs will have to respond appropriately to higher temperatures, different rainfall and wind patterns, as well as floods and larger storms. 

4. Decrease emissions 

Emissions are a contributing factor to greenhouse gases, which cause climate change. Creating designs that lessen emissions, such as carbon dioxide, over it's lifespan can help with this green-conscious movement. 

5. Incorporate solar energy

Integrating solar energy into your design has an easy impact on reducing dependence by simply capturing power from the sun or wind. It greatly reduces the need to power heaters and air conditioners from regular sources of energy. 

6. Design with the thought of shade 

With an increase in solar radiation, designing buildings that offer more shade can better protect and reduce the need for excessive energy usage. 

7. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions will building

Be conscious of the products your design calls for; will it need extensive material extraction, manufacturing, processing, and transportation? 


Some architects are already creating game-changing design concepts that are set to protect its residents from future floods, higher temperatures, or other potentially devastating weather events. 

  • London's Floating House: Started as a challenge by Paper House in 2013, CTA created a lightweight structure called the Floating House,  that can be built on a flood-plain. 

  • Venice Concrete Basins: With Venice's sea levels quickly rising, some designers are getting creative on how to protect their city.  By creating a concrete basin at the entrance of many shops, some shop owners help to capture water overflow. 

  • NYC Flood BarrierAfter the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, Rebuild by Design created a competition to respond to the crisis. One winner in particular is the $335 million flood barrier that will span along Manhattan's Lower East Side. 

  • Denmark's Flood Skate Park:  With Denmark leading the charge as one of the most global-conscious country in the world, it's no wonder that they could create a dual function for a skate park. In an effort to re-direct rainwater, they created a skate-able canal. The canal capturing the water empties quickly and the skate park is back to being a full-time hangout spot.

With climate change as an imminent threat, designs are our number one protection against unpredictable elements.  If you or your firm designed any new game-changing structures ready to take on climate change, we want to hear about them!