What does resilient design mean for buildings? Should our buildings be designed to withstand a major storm, or should we try to mitigate extreme heat buildup in our cities? These are two different design approaches. One helps to block storm water from entering buildings, hopefully keeping them operational after a brutal storm. The other helps to lower the average temperature of our cities while decreasing oceans temperature.

New York City has recently developed guidelines to help designers protect buildings from climate change and to help slow down climate change. Earlier this year, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency in New York City published the “Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines.” The guidelines are currently being piloted and, if approved, will be required for all NYC capital projects.

Both approaches to resiliency are important for designers to be aware of. It should not be one or the other. The cost to repair and replace buildings damaged by major storms can burden cities, both financially and functionally, while good design from the beginning can help lower the cost to replace damaged buildings and at the same time fight global warming.