These Homes Want to Save Lives

August 13, 2018
Lifesaver hung on a white wall
Photo: Unsplash/Diana Feil

Healthy living and energy savings are two essential components of high-performance homes, but "life-safety" features may be the key for bringing green building into the mainstream. 

Protecting the home against power outages stemming from cyber attacks or major weather events are baked into high-performance home building, Alex Wilson, president of the Resilient Design Institute in Brattleboro, Vt., explains to The Energy & Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA), "Many of the strategies needed to achieve resilience, such as really well-insulated homes ... are largely the same, but the motivation is one of life-safety, rather than simply doing the right thing." Wilson adds that life-safety may be the strongest selling point with the widest-ranging appeal to speed up green building's conventional acceptance by both buyers and builders. 

Outages are a fact of life. Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards ice storms, wildfires and other weather incidents that threaten the power grid seem to make the news, weekly. This March, for instance, 2.8 million people in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic found themselves without power after a nor'easter blew across the region. Six months earlier, Hurricane Irma had put 7.6 Southeast residents in the dark, some of them for a week. If the weather weren't reason enough to take resilience seriously, policymakers now worry about terrorists taking the grid down with a cyber attack.

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