In the last couple of years, British Columbians have been impacted by several extreme weather events, including a devastating forest fire near Kelowna last summer and an intense rainfall causing catastrophic flooding in the Fraser Valley in 2021. Adapting to climate change and mitigating the risks associated with a warming climate is becoming a necessity for many organizations across the province, and around the world. To help organizations assess the impact of extreme weather events on their infrastructure and make informed decisions, Prism Engineering developed a Climate Resilience Assessment Tool.
Our Energy, Mechanical, and Sustainability teams collaborated to create this valuable new resource that combines climate data and site-specific information. With our technical support, building owners and managers can generate a report that provides actionable recommendations to prepare and adapt to climate change by understanding site-specific measures available to mitigate potential risks.
“The framework we’ve developed is important because it prioritizes the actions that should be taken to improve the resilience of buildings in the face of extreme weather events,” explains Sam Thomas, Principal and Kootenay Branch Manager.
“Many organizations are unaware of what they should do to better adapt to a changing climate. Some are hesitant to get expert advice because of the associated efforts involved. The tool is intended to make it more accessible and easier for them to anticipate the impacts of climate change,” he adds.
A scoring system to assess vulnerability
To use the tool, a user enters information about a building’s location, use and attributes. Buildings constructed using significant combustible materials, for example, may pose a greater risk in areas prone to wildfires. Similarly, facilities in regions affected by floods could be at risk if their backup generators are placed at ground level.
The tool then uses the inputs provided by the user along with publicly available climate data to estimate the likelihood and consequence of a climate event on different aspects of the site. This is achieved by applying a scoring system, as shown in Figure 1. The overall score is determined by multiplying the likelihood rating by the consequence rating. The scoring is intended to help the user make informed decisions based on the level of risk and priorities.
“The goal is to determine each possible scenario, the likelihood that a certain climate event might be an issue for the facility and the consequences if it does happen,” explains Sam.
Figure 1 – Scoring system.
After analyzing the data, the tool generates a report with a concise summary of suggested measures. The increasing frequency of heat waves, for example, could trigger investing in building envelopes to reduce the indoor temperature. Similarly, the smoke from frequent forest fires might require modifications to the filtration and ventilation systems.
“One of the main advantages of this tool is that building owners or managers can use the information they already have about the facility to carry out the assessment themselves,” explains Sam. “This makes it quick and easy for them to identify what measures they can take to enhance their climate resilience,” he adds.
Prism is here to support your organization’s climate adaptation journey
We have extensive technical expertise to support your organization through its climate adaptation journey and proactively prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Reach out to our Climate Action Specialist to discuss how our services can best support your organization.