The Resilient Design Institute held a retreat of our Advisory Board in March and, among other issues, addressed how to describe resilience. Out of that discussion emerged the Resilient Design Principles, which I am posting here.
Consider this a working draft that will evolve over time, but I wanted to get it posted and solicit feedback. What’s missing? Is there redundancy? How could these principles be clarified?
Also included here is the working RDI definition of resilience.
Any and all feedback is welcome. Either use the comments field below to post your thoughts or, if you’d prefer, you can e-mail me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
RDI’s definition of 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.
The Resilient Design Principles
- Resilience transcends scales. Strategies to address resilience are relevant at scales of individual buildings, communities, and larger regional and ecosystem scales.
- Diverse systems are inherently more resilient. More diverse communities, ecosystems, economies, and social systems are better able to respond to interruptions or change, making them inherently more resilient.
- Redundancy enhances resilience. While sometimes in conflict with efficiency and green building priorities, redundant systems for such needs as electricity, water, and transportation, improve resilience.
- Simple, elegant, passive systems are more resilient. Features like passive heating and cooling strategies for buildings and natural swales for stormwater management are more resilient than complex systems that can break down and require ongoing maintenance.
- Durability strengthens resilience. Features that increase durability, such as rainscreen details on buildings, windows designed to withstand hurricane winds, biological erosion-control measures that grow stronger over time, and beautiful buildings that will be maintained for generations, enhance resilience.
- Locally available, renewable resources are more resilient. Reliance on abundant local resources, such as solar energy and annually replenished groundwater, provides greater resilience than nonrenewable resources from far away.
- Resilience anticipates interruptions and a dynamic future. Adaptation to a changing climate with higher temperatures, more intense storms, flooding, drought, and wildfire is a growing necessity, while non-climate-related natural disasters, such as earthquakes and solar flares, and anthropogenic actions like terrorism and cyberterrorism, call for resilient design.
- Find resilience in nature. Natural systems have evolved to achieve resilience; we can enhance our resilience by relying on or applying lessons from nature.
- Resilience is not absolute. Recognize that incremental steps can be taken and that “total resilience” in the face of all situations is not possible. Implement what is feasible and work to achieve greater resilience in stages.
Along with founding the Resilient Design Institute in 2012, Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed.