Climate Adapted Design: Buildings, Neighborhoods, and Rules

Start Date
End Date
Hurricane Katrina triggered a wide array of design charrettes and community-based exercises featuring blue ribbon panel experts from various national professional associations and resulting in an array of creative ideas for disaster resilient buildings and neighborhoods. However, relatively little of these great ideas were put to use in New Orleans, and climate adapted design still remains far outside the realm of most professional practice elsewhere. Factoring in climate change is now becoming less of a theoretical discussion as places like New York City commence re-tooling their codes rapidly in order to address rebuilding in real time based on more realistic assumptions. Many design professionals are realizing that their training and history of practice has resulted in gaps of information, or even clear expectations on roles and responsibilities, related to climate change issues.

Join nationally recognized experts addressing the rapidly emerging concepts of mitigation and resilience for natural disaster preparedness and sustainability in an important program on designing for climate change. Learn how to apply sustainability and resilience principles and practices to projects to strengthen both your businesses and the communities you work in. The course will introduce technical measures, decision frameworks, and basic science that can support climate adapted design.

Instructors will share some of the newest ideas and options related to building and neighborhood scale measures to reduce risk from flooding that may be connected with increased rainfall, sea level rise, and other threats. Starting with a thorough understanding of FEMA’s published map resources and strategies for flood-proofing buildings, attendees will gain working knowledge of how to design for areas impacted by floods, and also those potentially vulnerable in the future to various climate change impacts. Instructors will provide an overview of climate science and Sea Level Rise projections, and other key impacts, so the nature of the problem and exposure to risk is understandable. Through brief case studies, participants will assess why relying upon FEMA flood maps and local flood requirements to establish design criteria is not likely sufficient to meet a standard of care to design for coastal flood conditions, especially if maps were produced decades ago. Materials will feature visual depictions of infrastructure systems for solutions at the building and neighborhood scale.

Identify key sources of information, as well as trends in policy and programs governing climate risk associated with flooding for upland, river, and coastal settings, as well as other impacts including heat waves, fires, and power disruption, all identified as growing trends based on changing temperature and rainfall patterns. An interactive discussion will debate the question, “Do designers expose themselves or their clients to more liability, or reduced risk, by engaging in innovative methods to address climate adapted buildings and neighborhoods?” Explore the principles of resilience, energy security, and safe sheltering that help improve public safety and prepare for disasters, as well as day to day efficiency. Learn about current discussions addressing standard of care in light of new published reports and evolving examples of practical design solutions. Review strategies and examples where sustainability, resiliency, compliance, client value, and designer liability can be addressed simultaneously.
Cambridge, MA
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Housing & Community Design
Parks & Recreation
Residential Design
Site Planning
Urban Planning & Design
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
-Apply design solutions that address climate change challenges by increasing resilience and reducing risk in terms of health and safety, as well as property loss and infrastructure operations.

-Identify current sources of information about climate change impacts on built environment at the local scale so you can retrieve it for further use.

-Understand how to identify and select possible design measures for achieving resiliency and risk reduction in the face of typical climate change impacts at the building and neighborhood scale.

-Become aware of current trends that affect standard of care which are beginning to face design professionals in order to minimize liability exposure through incorporating useful procedures.
Wendi Goldsmith, Don Watson
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Course Codes
Harvard University Graduate School of Design

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