Senior Construction and Flood Risk Engineer Phil Allen explains how we should design our buildings to mitigate the effects of extreme weather conditions believed to be an impact of climate change.

Extraordinary weather conditions have a profound effect on nature and society. As the temperature of the atmosphere increases, its moisture storage capacity increases. This causes bigger and stronger storms, heavy rain events and floods.

So can we design our buildings to reduce the effects of major weather events? The solution to this interesting problem is hidden in the ideas that bring green to the fore. Therefore, we need to develop a smarter, more balanced relationship with water. An application called ” green roofs ” is one such example. While not a new solution, the so-called “ living roofs ” have only started to become legal requirements in various cities and countries around the world in the last decade, they have been recognized for their ability to mitigate the effects of climate change.

As part of a sustainable drainage system, green roofs can block and store rainwater. They release surface water at a slower rate into the drainage system, while transferring moisture back to the atmosphere through evaporation. Green roof systems also have the potential to filter and improve the quality of water before entering the drainage system.

In addition to offering environmental benefits, green roofs can also benefit people in cities. They can reduce local air pollutants and improve thermal performance by cooling in the summer, by evaporation through perspiration, or by providing better insulation in the winter. This can help reduce energy consumption.

Hotter, dry summers cause overheating in urban areas, especially in the most populous areas. So the green roof can also help tackle other major threats from climate change: the public health threat from rising temperatures.

Apart from green roofs, there are many design and construction strategies that increase building sustainability and reduce the effects of climate change, from material choices to other social and economic decisions. Overall, a collaborative approach is needed to drive new developments so that infrastructure and buildings can effectively cope with climate change.