Resilient Design: Six North American Homes Setting New Standards

When home­buy­ers make their wish list for a new house, they’re like­ly to include things like an open con­cept design, sus­tain­ably-sourced hard­wood floors and day­light for opti­mal ener­gy-effi­cien­cy. What they may not be wor­ried about is resilience: how well their home can with­stand hur­ri­cane-force winds, flood­ing, wild­fires, or sim­ply the repeat­ed expo­sure to the ele­ments over the years.

Alex Wil­son, founder of Build­ing­Green, says: It turns out that many of the strate­gies need­ed to achieve resilience — such as real­ly well-insu­lat­ed homes that will keep their occu­pants safe if the pow­er goes out or inter­rup­tions in heat­ing fuel occur — are exact­ly the same strate­gies we have been pro­mot­ing for years in the green build­ing move­ment.”

Resilient design expands on the stan­dards of sus­tain­abil­i­ty and green build­ing and includes strate­gies for dis­as­ter-pre­pared­ness, like an on-site emer­gency gen­er­a­tor, impact-resis­tant win­dows and wall sys­tems that can stand up to storm debris.

The fol­low­ing projects show­case homes that are designed with beau­ty and ener­gy-effi­cien­cy in mind and are built to take what Moth­er Nature dish­es out.

1. The Most Resilient House in North America

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The Resilient Design Insti­tute named this Cana­di­an home the most resilient house in North Amer­i­ca.”

Home­own­er and builder Alain Hamel was dri­ven to design the home after liv­ing through sev­er­al weath­er dis­as­ters: flood­ing, an ice storm, and a house fire. Alain set out to design a house that would pro­tect his fam­i­ly from future storms and dev­as­ta­tion.

A com­bi­na­tion of min­er­al wool and rigid foam insu­la­tion help the home achieve high-per­for­mance insu­la­tion which guar­an­tees ener­gy-effi­cien­cy and com­fort, even when tem­per­a­tures get below freez­ing in the harsh Cana­di­an cli­mate.

Addi­tion­al storm safe­ty mea­sures include a 3.3 kW gas gen­er­a­tor, in case of an extend­ed pow­er out­age, and an air-source heat pump to pro­vide back­up heat and cool­ing. Exte­ri­or roller-shut­ters and deep over­hangs pro­vide storm pro­tec­tion, with the added ben­e­fit of con­trol­ling unwant­ed solar heat gain.

The home is also designed for the com­fort and well-being of the own­ers, with radi­ant-floor heat tub­ing to deliv­er heat through­out.

2. Resilient and Sustainable Modern Design in a Harsh Texas Climate


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Archi­tect and builder Khair Zaman of Z Works Design Build col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Dixon fam­i­ly to cre­ate a mod­ern, low-main­te­nance, sus­tain­able home that would allow them to live effi­cient­ly and min­i­mize util­i­ty costs.

The goal was a build­ing sys­tem stur­dy enough to stand the test of time, but that wouldn’t require a lot of main­te­nance to keep the home look­ing beau­ti­ful. In a state like Texas, where the weath­er is unpre­dictable, it was also impor­tant to include top-qual­i­ty insu­la­tion to main­tain the inte­ri­or tem­per­a­ture and make for a green­er and more ener­gy-effi­cient home. The inte­grat­ed insu­la­tion of the wall sys­tem keeps the inter­nal tem­per­a­ture of their house con­stant and their ener­gy bills low.

The inno­v­a­tive Bau­tex Wall Sys­tem also met resilien­cy stan­dards with its laun­dry list of safe­ty fea­tures:

  • Meets the FEMA 320 and FEMA 361 guide­lines in storm zones with pos­si­ble wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour.
  • Meets or exceeds ICC-500 and FEMA stan­dards for debris impact.
  • Meets and exceeds indus­try stan­dards for fire resis­tance.

The Dixon fam­i­ly also need­ed a nat­ur­al water sys­tem, like a well or cis­tern. They decid­ed on a rain­wa­ter col­lec­tion sys­tem that pro­vid­ed bet­ter water qual­i­ty than a drilled well. The 20,000 gal­lons of rain­wa­ter col­lect­ed with­in the struc­ture pro­vides fur­ther insu­la­tion as well.

Using the Bau­tex sys­tem allowed the home­own­ers to main­tain the home’s min­i­mal, mod­ern style and allowed them to inte­grate the rain col­lec­tion sys­tem with­in the enve­lope of the struc­ture.

3. Green Home of the Year


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Green­Builder named this cus­tom home in the Hamp­tons the 2016 Green Home of the Year.

After dam­age sus­tained from Super­storm Sandy, this com­plete rebuild incor­po­rat­ed resilien­cy mea­sures that brought the design up to code and pro­tect­ed the home from future storms.

The Sun­set Green” stands 14 feet above sea lev­el, exceed­ing local safe­ty code require­ments. An impact-resis­tant glass was installed through­out the home to pre­vent dam­age from any wind-borne debris. Walls under­neath the home were designed to enable flood waters to pass through the home’s low­er lev­el with­out dam­ag­ing the struc­ture.

The project achieved LEED Plat­inum Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and also fea­tures a resilient, envi­ron­men­tal­ly sus­tain­able land­scap­ing design, with a mead­ow that’s home to native plants, birds and small mam­mals. The pic­turesque land­scape also pro­vides a nat­ur­al buffer against storm surge.

4. A 3D-Printed Solution for Disaster-Prone Regions


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Keep­ing up with envi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges requires that we approach prob­lems dif­fer­ent­ly. That’s what Jason Bal­lard did when he intro­duced a 350-square-foot 3D print­ed con­crete home this year in Austin.

Bal­lard is one of the co-founders of ICON, a con­struc­tion tech­nolo­gies com­pa­ny. ICON part­nered with the non-prof­it New Sto­ry to build the first per­mit­ted 3D-print­ed home in Amer­i­ca, which it recent­ly unveiled at Austin’s SXSW event.

We can’t rip our homes apart every time a storm hits South­east Texas,” Bal­lard said. I would be shocked if any­body remain­ing in South­east Texas had any con­fi­dence in two-by-fours and dry­wall after Har­vey,” he said.

The con­crete was poured through a Vul­can 3D print­er and put through a whole bat­tery of tests.” They found it is more resilient than tra­di­tion­al con­struc­tion mate­ri­als.

I did­n’t want the world to have to choose between hav­ing an afford­able home or hav­ing a home that is beau­ti­ful, resilient, healthy and sus­tain­able,” Bal­lard said.

5. Strategic Design for a More Resilient Rebuild


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The vil­lage of North­field, Illi­nois was recent­ly des­ig­nat­ed as a flood­plain after a flood-dam­aged most of the homes in the region, includ­ing this for­mer Mid-Cen­tu­ry Mod­ern home. The home’s two-sto­ry addi­tion had sur­vived the flood event and has been built to flood safe­ty stan­dards. But the new own­ers pre­ferred a Cape Cod style home which meant the rebuild required a strate­gic design pro­gram.

The award-win­ning team behind the rebuild, Nex­tHaus Alliance, serves the Chica­go metro area and spe­cial­izes in resilient design, build­ing homes that can han­dle the pow­er­ful extremes of nature, from severe winds and storms to full-blown nat­ur­al dis­as­ters.” A flow-through foun­da­tion now sup­ports the two-sto­ry home, which allows water to flow under raised floor­ing.

The home’s inte­ri­or is opti­mized for ener­gy-effi­cien­cy and fea­tures LED lights, Ener­gy Star appli­ances, and a whole house ven­ti­la­tion sys­tem. Solar ther­mal pan­els pro­vide sus­tain­able ener­gy for hot water through­out the home and in the exist­ing pool.

6. Floating Luxury Homes


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Hous­ing start­up, Arkup, has part­nered with a Mia­mi-based char­ter com­pa­ny to make their liv­able yachts” avail­able for rent and pur­chase in 2019. These float­ing homes are lift­ed by a hydraulic sys­tem, enabling them to with­stand ris­ing sea lev­els and Cat­e­go­ry 4 hur­ri­canes.

The lux­u­ry house­boats are sus­tain­able, too, and are pow­ered by solar ener­gy. A rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tem col­lects water from the roof for fresh water. The struc­tures require no fuel and are zero emis­sion, equipped with waste man­age­ment” for an off-the-grid expe­ri­ence.

(Note: If you’re wor­ried about get­ting queasy, the self-ele­vat­ing hydraulic sys­tem was designed to pre­vent sea-sick­ness.)

Opportunities for a More Resilient Future

There is a mul­ti­tude of approach­es to cre­at­ing more resilient hous­ing, no mat­ter where you’re build­ing. From inno­v­a­tive solu­tions like 3D con­struc­tion to a wall sys­tem that exceeds build­ing code require­ments, there are solu­tions for resilient design to fit any homeowner’s taste.

To learn more about dis­as­ter-proof build­ing solu­tions, con­tact the experts at Bau­tex at [email protected]​bautexsystems.​com, (855) 9228839 or sign up for updates on how Bau­tex Sys­tems is trans­form­ing the built envi­ron­ment.