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.