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Download from the Prairie Climate Centre (PCC)

Building a Climate-Resilient City: The built environment

This policy brief looks at ways to cities can foster resilience in the built environment.

Specifically, the paper explores climate-robust design options, effectively raising the bar in building design, and highlight some emerging Canadian best practices.

Key Messages

  • Buildings are now and will be increasingly exposed to higher climate stresses and more frequent co-occurrences of climate shocks such as more variable and episodic snow loads and rain-on-snow episodes. New design tools such as the PIEVC protocol and the Climate Change Hazards Information Portal help developers and asset managers assess climate risk. Climate-smart design tools will provide a long-term strategic benefit to cities.
  • The built environment creates urban heat island (UHI) effects, which amplify heat waves and can be deadly to vulnerable elderly and infirm populations. UHI can be mitigated through spatial planning, including the strategic use of green space. UHI impacts can also be mitigated by designating and maintaining cooling stations.
  • Architectural protocols such as LEED and district-planning paradigms such as EcoDistricts encourage patterns of resource use and community dynamics that increase resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The Building a Climate-Resilient City series was prepared for the City of Edmonton and the City of Calgary by the Prairie Climate Centre, a collaboration between the University of Winnipeg and the International Institute for Sustainable Development. This series looks makes recommendations for steps that cities can take as part of their municipal adaptation planning to build their resilience to climate change. It explores three key principles of resilience building: robustness (strong design), redundancy (building extra capacity into systems to act as fail-safe networks) and resourcefulness (citizen empowerment).