Community Resiliency Through Living Architecture

hurricane sandy

Submissions are now being accepted for The Great Community Resiliency Project contest, which is being held by Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC).

The contest is based around the need to change the way we prepare for disasters and is searching for ideas from across the globe surrounding how living architecture can create more resilient communities.

In 2012 alone, the United States paid out over $1 billion in damages for each of 11 extreme weather disasters. The cost of cleaning up from Hurricane Sandy is in excess of $60 billion. These recent reminders go to show that designers have yet to fully understand the potential of resilience architecture and how to appropriately prepare for and cope with disasters.

GRHC claims living green infrastructure technologies need to be embraced and implemented through policies and public infrastructure to protect, restore and renew community ecosystems.

To benefit societies socially, economically and environmentally, GRHC says the following living green infrastructure technologies should be implemented into our community building policies:

  • Green roofs
  • Green walls
  • Urban forests
  • Rain gardens
  • Porous street paving systems
  • Composting systems
  • Water harvesting
  • Green streets and laneways
  • Natural and engineered wetlands
  • Green spaces such as community gardens, turf and parkland
community green space

Green roofs provide community green space. Credit: Green Roofs

Countries across the world seem to be subject to more natural disasters related to climate change in the form of tornadoes, floods and droughts in recent history.

Living green infrastructure is said to address climate change in a number of ways. It cools hard surface temperatures, reducing energy consumption, and reduces extremely hot temperatures in urban areas. It also captures harmful pollutants in the air and filters out harmful gases, making air cleaner.

Living green infrastructure creates jobs in design, manufacturing, installation and maintenance. It can also increase local tax revenues and improve property value.

By increasing the opportunities for bicycling, walking and outdoor activities, it works to create healthier lifestyles and reduces obesity rates, creating healthier citizens and placing less stress on the healthcare system.

“Hospitals may be the ideal places to utilise living architecture to establish ‘islands of resiliency’ in the face of community disaster – places where citizens can go to find clean water, food and power, even as floodwaters rise, fires burn or buildings topple,” said GRHC founder and president Steven Peck.


Stormwater needs to be managed efficiently to avoid flooding. Credit: EPA Victoria

GRHC’s contest seeks ideas to combat environmental degradation, resource shortages, climate change and natural disasters. Entrants will have the chance to win a free delegate pass to CitiesAlive, which will be held from October 23 to 26 in San Francisco.

Ideas must be submitted to the editor by August 28. Submissions can be in the form of a 75-word editorial, a one-minute video, one-minute audio clip, or a drawing or high-resolution photo with a caption.

The top picks will be published in the November issue of the Living Architecture Monitor magazine as well as on GRHC’s Facebook and Pinterest pages, and will be voted on by the public. The submission receiving the most votes will win the CitiesAlive delegate pass, which includes access to all core conferences, technical sessions, lunch, trade shows, a CitiesAlive themed party at the California Academy of Sciences and the Awards of Excellence luncheon.

By Kristen Avis
Top Image: Rockefeller Foundation
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