A cold snap in the New York City area - with daily low temperatures set to drop into the upper 30s Fahrenheit (2-4 degrees Celsius) early next week - is raising concerns that residents of the storm-stricken areas of New York, New Jersey or Connecticut could be left without heat as they recover from one of the worst storms in U.S. history.
Many buildings rely on heating oil, and distribution is sketchy. Houses often need electricity to run the furnaces, even if they have gas. Nobody ever planned for this kind of thing. Perhaps it is time that we did; perhaps we should be building resilience into our building codes. Over at The Resilient Design Institute, Alex Wilson has some ideas:
Now, the need for resilience is front-and-center. There are people who will be without power for weeks. Will they be able to stay in their houses without electricity? Will their pipes freeze if we get a cold spell before power is restored? By building or retrofitting to achieve resilient design, we can create homes that will never drop below 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit even if the house is totally cut off from power and heating fuel—they can do that with high levels of insulation, top-performing windows, passive solar gain, and other features..
Resilient design also informs where we build and how we create infrastructure to deal with stormwater. It tells us to build with materials that can get wet and dry out again without growing mold. It leads to the use of hurricane tie-down strapping that will keep roofs from blowing off in intense winds.
It isn't that hard to do, and it doesn't cost that much more.