Resilient Homes

How might we make homes and communities more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as desertification, fires, flooding, and beach erosion?


The increases in floods, fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters around the world continue to expose the fragility of modern human society, and in particular the fragility of our built environment. We continue to see that our homes are unable to withstand these pressures. Furthermore, we don’t have adequate physical, social, economic infrastructure to support those who are displaced. Take for example the growing contentious relationship between homeowners and insurance companies. Thus far we have spent much of building developments around permanent structures, and have begun to invest more time and energy into the development of temporary shelters. Although ensuring that people are physically safe is essential following these events, these ideas do little for the people who are potentially experiencing the most traumatic events of their life.

Specific angles to explore

We can think about this in terms of the house itself, as well as the individuals who live in the house, and what their specific needs are when the house is placed under stress. Thinking about the house as the unit of analysis, it can be helpful to think about the way that the structure is performing when placed under different environmental pressures. The notion performing here means, how are specific components of the house adapting to changes in its environment. If you are interested in exploring how the house itself can be improved, it can be helpful to dissect some specific elements of the house and reimagine how they might respond, adapt, or be repurposed when placed under particular pressures. (Check out some of the additional lenses for looking at this issue below). Another way to look at the idea of resilient homes is through the eyes of the people that are experiencing the event itself. If beginning your inquiry from this lens, it might be helpful to think about what the house served prior to a disaster, and then thinking about how the loss or damage of the house directly impacts the lives of those who inhabit the structure. What has been briefly sketched out are a few ways of beginning to explore resilient homes.

How might we use the lens of the individual house in order to nuance our existing knowledge of climate change resilience on a regional and national scale?

How might we compensate for emotional losses when people must move from areas that are no longer feasible to live in?

How might we fund the construction of climate change resilience adaptations when the developers of a project are no longer invested in the site?

How can we make homes more resilient to climate change, desertification, and other environmental challenges facing San Diego?