"If they lose electricity, few buildings in the U.S. can provide as much comfort as my backpacking tent."

— Terry Brennan, Westmoreland, New York, quoted in the Environmental Building News feature article, "Passive Survivability: A New Design Criterion for Buildings," May, 2006

What is Resilience?

Resilience is the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance.  It is the capacity to bounce back after a disturbance or interruption.

At various levels —individuals, households, communities, and regions — through resilience we can maintain livable conditions in the event of natural disasters, loss of power, or other interruptions in normally available services.

Relative to climate change, resilience involves adaptation to the wide range of regional and localized impacts that are expected with a warming planet: more intense storms, greater precipitation, coastal and valley flooding, longer and more severe droughts in some areas, wildfires, melting permafrost, warmer temperatures, and power outages.

Resilient design is the intentional design of buildings, landscapes, communities, and regions in response to these vulnerabilities. As used by the Resilient Design Institute, resilient design focuses on practical, on-the-ground solutions.

See also:

Who we are:

The RDI team consists of dedicated professionals with long experience and expertise in the fields of sustainability, green building, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture.

Our board of directors consists of the following (click here for extended bios):

Alex Wilson, founder of BuildingGreen, Inc., an 18-person company serving the design and construction industry with non-biased information on environmentally responsible design and construction since 1985 (…more)

Vern Grubinger, coordinator of USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (…more)

Scot Horst, senior vice president of the U.S. Green Building Council (…more)

Martin Langeveld, independent marketing consultant (…more)

Ralph Meima, founding director of the Marlboro College MBA in Managing for Sustainability (…more)

Jim Newman, founder and the director of metrics at Linnean Solutions (…more)

Daniel Slone, partner at McGuireWoods, LLP (…more)

Jerelyn Wilson, outreach director and manager of campus accounts at BuildingGreen, Inc. (…more)

We also draw upon the deep experience of our advisory board.

What we do:

Our Mission

The Resilient Design Institute (RDI) creates solutions that enable buildings and communities to survive and thrive in the face of climate change, natural disasters and other disruptions.

Our vision

The Resilient Design Institute was founded to advance the many facets of resilience at personal, community, and regional scales. RDI will focus on the built environment, energy, food, infrastructure, and economic systems, as well as on the organizations and institutions that manage and support these systems. The Institute is concerned both with catastrophic events, such as storms, floods, fires, and sudden power outages, and with long-term shifts like drought, rising temperatures, and economic dislocation. The institute will maintain a website on resilient design, sponsor think-tank retreats on topics related to resilience, publish white papers, and provid consulting services related to resilience.


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