Climate Change and Buildings: Adaptation or Consequences [2010]

Are you concerned, as an owner or as a building design professional, about what potential impacts your building, whether existing, new or in the design or planning stages, may sustain from climate change?

Will your existing or yet to be designed and built facility be subjected to potential damage from the impact of hazards caused or exacerbated by global climate change?

Is complying with the minimum requirements of applicable building codes all you need to do to ensureyour newly built, or in-the-process-of-being-designed building, will be capable of sustaining future impacts driven or exacerbated by climate change without sustaining major damage?

These are all relevant and critical questions requiring practical and informative answers. These are answers decision-makers need to make well informed decisions about the location, scope, type of construction, design and cost of a new building, or about the viability of an existing building. These are answers and information that are needed now!

Despite this clear critical need for information and answers, the reality is that for the past 12-15 years most of the discussion regarding climate change has focused on mitigation meaning what humankind must do to reduce or soften our adverse impact on the global climate. It is only recently that a few scientists have begun to focus on adaptation, meaning actions that humankind must take to reduce the potential for damage to components of human activity from the impact of climate change; in other words what can we do to protect ourselves from what climate change can do to us?

Ricardo Alvarez  was one of the pioneers who argued we must pay equal attention to adaptation than we have been paying to mitigation relative to climate change, going back to 2000 when he started writing and presenting on this topic. Selected examples of these activities follow:

In 2003 Ricardo wrote a brief paper titled Climate Change Impact in Florida: Impact of Developed Coastal Areas. In 2007 Ricardo presented a poster and was a panelist on a breakout session at the Florida Climate Change Conference, [please click on the link that follows for the complete report on this conference  CCC_Final_report_2007[1] ] in Tampa, Florida, organized by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies [ ], presenting on the need to change the way we design and build buildings and infrastructure to take into account the impacts of climate change.

In January of 2008 Ricardo was a poster presenter [] and also a panelist at the 8th National Conference on Climate Change: Science and Solutions [ www.ncseonline.] organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment [NCSE] ] in Washington DC on January 2008. As a panelist Ricardo presented on the topic of Adaptation of the Built Environment to Climate Change in a breakout session on Adaptation: Urban Responses to Climate Change in Coastal Cities [].org/2008conference/

More recently, in 2010,  Ricardo Alvarez presented a poster at an event organized by the Florida Center for Environmental Studies [CES] to welcome the newly  inaugurated president of Florida Atlantic University [FAU] [] Mary Jane Saunders, Ph.D. [ ], in which he summarized the topic of Climate Change and Buildings: Adaptation or Consequences [ CONSULTING30 ] for the Climate Change Priority Symposium held on FAU main campus on 26 October 2010.

To discuss adaptation alternatives for your building or facility you may contact Ricardo Alvarez at: [305] 931-0871; via FAX: [305] 931-4704, or EMAIL:

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