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A New Way to Look at Housing in a Changing Climate

For those that acknowledge the science behind Climate Change, these two words ignite a deep concern in the hearts of many. This is especially true as we watch community members in both Northern and Southern California losing their homes to rampant wildfires. What does Climate Change mean for housing, and how can we adapt? Is there room for hope?


The Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II was recently delivered to congress and focuses on the human welfare, societal, and environmental elements of climate change in the US. The report summary warns “the continued warming that is projected to occur without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions is expected to cause substantial net damage to the U.S. economy throughout this century, especially in the absence of increased adaptation efforts”. In particular, Chapter 8 of the report focuses on the negative impacts that climate change will have on Coastal Communities like our beloved Santa Cruz if things continue as they are. While the report suggests that it is still possible to reduce the most negative impacts of climate change with immediate preventive action, we are already experiencing more extreme weather patterns. This suggests that, in addition to demanding change at the highest levels of government, it may be time to change to our buildings to adapt to a quickly changing environment.


As people around the world digest this hard truth, architects are rethinking the way we build and maintain our housing. The BBC has created a series that features houses built to adapt to a changing climate: houses that follow the sun to increase the usefulness of solar panels, float in times of flooding, and are made out of more flexible materials such as bamboo or sandbags which fair better during earthquakes or fires.


These homes, inspired by nature, exemplify our ability to adapt our housing to a changing climate, creating more resilient communities. They are also often “greener” either in their construction or energy consumption over the life-span of the building. For us, focusing on both the problem and solution makes room for hope. As the story of climate change unfolds, we hope that homes like these will make their way to the mainstream.


Are you interested in reading more about Climate Change and Real Estate? Check out our blog-series on the topic:

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