Creating a Resilient Home: Page 5 of 5

Intermediate

Inside this Article

In a heating-dominated climate, solar gain and good insulation can keep a home cozy without much energy.
In a cooling-dominated climate, earth-coupling and shading the home from the sun can make a home comfortable without much energy input.
With its Secure Power Supply feature, SMA America’s line of TL-US inverters can provide up to 1.5 kW of AC power when the grid is down but the sun is shining.
Portable solar power systems can provide emergency power for communication, lighting, and battery charging.
This AC-coupled system includes battery backup, integrated with a batteryless grid-tied photovoltaic system.
A solar water heating system can often provide adequate hot water, even without utility power.
Solar ovens like the StarFlower can bake without combustible fuel and without heating up the home.
The same energy that grows your fruits and vegetables can also dry your harvest.
Solar pumping systems can be AC-powered, DC-powered, or PV-direct (batteryless).
Having on-site rainwater collection and storage is a valuable addition to a home’s resiliency.
Electric cars are becoming more commonplace, and can be charged directly from solar-electric systems.
Electric-powered vehicles come in many sizes and shapes to meet different needs of range, climate, load capacity, and charging resource.

Wind Resilience

Many areas have the potential for tornadoes and hurricane-force winds. That makes designing homes (and their RE systems) that meet the nation’s most stringent hurricane codes a smart move.

  • Provide building geometries that reduce wind resistance and uplift potential. Consider hip roofs instead of gable roofs; limit overhangs at the eaves; and provide entry doors on the more-protected lee (downwind) side of a house.
  • Incorporate hurricane straps and other steel anchoring systems to hold wood-frame structures to the foundation and tie the different frame elements together. Shear panels at the house corners can provide racking resistance.
  • Install wind-rated roofing, and use hurricane-code-compliant nail spacing.
  • Install impact-rated windows or exterior hurricane shutters in hurricane-prone areas. Tempered-glass or laminated glass windows are more expensive than standard windows, but that additional cost can quickly be recovered if a major storm occurs.
  • PV array mounts should be appropriately engineered to code and to withstand wind forces.

Fire Resilience

With drought conditions becoming more frequent, protecting a home from fire is becoming especially important. If you’re in forested fire country, around your home, select materials and plants that help inhibit fire rather than spread it. Immediately around the home, create a 30- to 100-foot buffer zone that’s free from brush and other debris. Choose noncombustible materials for the home’s exterior—metal or stone roofs, and adobe, concrete block, or concrete stucco finishes. Surprisingly, most houses that burn down during wildfires do so when embers enter attics through soffit vents. Select ember-excluding soffit vents to minimize this risk. Keep debris from collecting under decks—another common way in which houses can catch on fire. Make sure access roads are wide enough to accommodate emergency vehicles. Provide on-site water storage and a portable pump for on-site fire-fighting.

Other Resiliency: Food & Community

Food. The average distance food travels to get to your plate is about 1,400 miles. This vulnerability calls for greater reliance on locally produced food. Growing some of your own vegetables, raising poultry, and supporting local farming all help provide food security.

Community. Strong, tight-knit communities are more resilient and better able to respond to disturbances and interruptions. During a disaster, your neighbor is your first responder. Strategies to build stronger communities include holding regular gatherings that bring people together. In the design of large multifamily buildings, including a common room can provide a venue for community activities.

Comments (1)

Frank Heller's picture

You seem to forget the most resilient system is one which can be maintained and repaired by the home owner; including redundancy. The more rural your residence, the more widespread the disaster--storms, floods, ice storms, etc. the harder it will be to get your dealer/installer to your place esp. if you aren't plowed out or your power is out for several days.

When all factors are weighed the propane or natural gas fueled backup generator is the one left standing. ....care for a photo of a rack of PV panels on a neighbor's house covered with ice and snow, and left that way for weeks?

Another impact is the effect of 'smart meters' which can be moderated from outside your home, altering the flow of power to it; or other grid restrictions on the flow of power into the grid under net metering

Local hydro-powered grids distributing power to restored mill buildings or small mill 'villages' are being seriously considered in Maine. Properly designed they can withstand flooding and even droughts; there are thousands of tidal mill sites which are immune to most disaster and use fairly simple technology like efficient water wheels powered by either flowing water or impounded water. They operate like they did in the 15th century with a large impound and a metered flow that is released during low tide.

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