The story at a glance
- Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida on Wednesday after hitting Cuba and knocking out the island’s power grid.
- With such extreme weather conditions becoming more and more common, the need for technology to protect homes against hurricanes and wildfires becomes more and more urgent.
- A variety of technologies are emerging, from tough solar panels to 3D printed walls.
The ongoing devastation caused by Hurricane Ian in Florida – and its predecessor Hurricane Fiona which caused landslides and flooding in Puerto Rico last week – is a reminder of how urgently humanity needs to figure out how protect homes from extreme weather events that scientists warn of. be made more powerful by rising global temperatures.
Well-insulated buildings and those made of concrete are more likely to survive an extreme weather event like Hurricane Ian, according to Lionel Scharly, strategic construction advisor at Real Estate Bees.
This is why houses are usually built of concrete in places that experience frequent hurricanes, such as Puerto Rico.
Scharly added that home builders should also consider a home’s shape when making buildings suitable for hurricanes. Round buildings are best suited for hurricane prone areas as they reduce wind pressure and a 30 degree roof pitch also helps a house reduce wind pressure making it more resistant to high winds.
And while investing in strong building materials and incorporating hurricane-resistant windows and doors will help people handle more intense storms, building experts are exploring other ways to make homes more weather-proof. extreme weather conditions.
In Puerto Rico, Marvel Architects designed eco-friendly homes to better withstand the impact of hurricanes and all the hassles that come with storms. Not only are the model buildings constructed with reinforced walls, but the houses are also equipped with solar panels that direct power to a generator, freeing residents from dependence on the island’s power grid.
Building technology company ICON has also taken on the task of trying to figure out how to make homes better equipped for hurricanes. The company has built four 3D printed houses in Texas this year, built to withstand hurricanes.
Miami-based construction company MV Group USA has put extreme weather and rising sea levels at the forefront of its new waterfront home designs.
The company is currently renovating a home in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood that sits below sea level. To help residents deal with the inevitable flooding, the company converted the home’s existing ground floor into a an 8-car garage with a dividing wall and drainage system to help residents deal with possible flooding and added a third floor to the building, according to the president of MV Group USA. Manny Varas.
A Canadian company is studying how non-traditional building materials could help make homes more resistant to hurricanes. JD Composites made hurricane-proof walls from recycled plastic soda bottles, which they claim can withstand a Category 5 hurricane.
Some companies have been working for years on ways to make homes and communities more resilient to extreme weather events, beyond hurricanes. In California, where the wildfire season has extended due to climate change, an architectural firm has designed a house with a zinc roof and shutters which act as a kind of “fire blanket”.
Tesla, the auto and clean energy company led by Elon Musk, has also been working to help owners deal with the harsh consequences of human-induced climate change. The company has created solar roof panels that are resistant to high winds like those that occur during a hurricane.