2021 was a difficult year for many in BC. From summer wildfires brought on by high temperatures and drought conditions to fall flooding from extreme rain events, the impacts of a changing climate are all around us and are more evident than ever. While disaster response and remediation are essential, they are also short-term, reactive solutions.
As we begin 2022 and look now to the future, climate science tells us that such extreme weather events and the hazards that go with them are likely to persist and increase in frequency and severity. So, what are we to do? We must learn to adapt. We must increase our resilience to climate change hazards through a proactive, not reactive, approach while simultaneously working to reduce emissions so that the long-term effects of climate change are reduced.
So, what is Low Carbon Resilience and why do we need it?
An organization works towards low carbon resilience when it chooses to pursue climate change mitigation and adaptation simultaneously, while also considering the co-benefits of each. Climate change mitigation work seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and prevent climate change. Climate change adaptation work seeks to respond to the impacts of climate change. For buildings, this means working to reduce a facility’s vulnerability to current and future climate change hazards such as extreme rain events, flooding, high temperatures and forest fires.
Historically these two areas of work, mitigation and adaptation, have often been siloed and worked on either by different parts of an organization or at different points in time through separate planning processes but there are many advantages to pursuing them simultaneously.
Advantages to pursuing mitigation and adaptation work simultaneously include:
- Project management cost savings (from streamlining planning processes and reducing the occurrence of contradictory or doubled-up work)
- Improved property value
- Improved occupant comfort & safety
- Improved air quality
- Green job creation
- And many more
One of the primary sources of GHG emissions in buildings is energy use, particularly for heating. Therefore, energy efficiency improvements, when undertaken strategically with climate hazards in mind, can help to increase a building’s resiliency while simultaneously reducing its GHG emissions. Some examples include improving the building envelope, upgrading HVAC filtration systems, and installing renewable energy generation or storage.
Regardless of where you are on your journey towards low carbon resilience, Prism can help. Prism’s sustainability and energy management teams can leverage their strategic planning and stakeholder engagement expertise to help you design low carbon and resilient climate action, sustainability and strategic energy management plans and policies. These plans and policies will focus on your organization’s priorities in areas such as: GHG emissions reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, waste reduction and zero-emission vehicle fleet transition.
Our electrical and mechanical teams can help you with facilities assessments, feasibility studies and building design and upgrades to assess and improve your buildings. We can help you identify a wide range of low carbon resilience opportunities in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, water conservation, low carbon electrification, and fleet charging infrastructure. We can also help with disaster relief and recovery when it is called for.
By planning early and considering climate change adaptation and mitigation simultaneously you can help your organization to increase its low carbon resilience now and into the future.