Introducing courses on resilience & adaptation



By Betsy del Monte, FAIA

Our environment is subjected to the increasing frequency and severity of many kinds of emergencies. Some of these are the results of changing climate and weather patterns; others are the result of infrastructure failure or of dangerous human behavior. All can have profound impacts on the safety and welfare of the public.

We’ve heard a lot about resiliency and resilient design lately, but like other important topics, not everyone defines these in the same way, or has a working knowledge of the issues.  Designing buildings to withstand the stresses they will be subjected to is not a new idea, but as the nature of those stresses is so rapidly changing, new resources are needed for architects to adopt the best practices.

To help AIA architects understand the issue of resilience, and know how it will impact their practice, AIAU has just released 3 new CEU courses that address hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resilience. These interactive courses introduce the topics and offer key data points that will help each participating architect develop knowledge and become a resource on these subjects so that they can integrate resilient design into their work.

As architects work on many project types, the way each building addresses the shocks and stresses of the environment is unique. While there is no single answer, the principles of design for resilience can be applied appropriately to each project. Many of these principles are familiar to those who focus on sustainable design. The things that make a building less dependent on infrastructure (net zero water or energy) also lead to a high capability to resist stress and to rapidly resume operations. However, some aspects of resilient design include redundancies that actually use more resources. It is important to have an understanding of the specific risk factors for the region and the site where the work is placed to provide the most effective design solutions.

The courses are part of the AIA Resilience and Adaptation Online Series, a multi-course series that provides the tools and knowledge needed to design for resilience. To create these resources, the AIA convened a group of architects, engineers, and educators with expertise on the issue.

The first three courses that have been released are:

Course 1. Resilience & Adaptation: An Introduction (1.00 LU / HSW)
Participants will develop a strong foundation in resilience and adaptation, including history, evolution, and key data points that support safe and healthy buildings and thriving communities. 

Course 2. Hazards, Vulnerability, & Risk (1.50 LUs / HSW)
This course teaches how to recognize, anticipate, calculate, and plan for the shocks and stresses facing communities and buildings in this essential course.

Course 3. Responding to Climate Change (1.25 LUs / HSW)
Acknowledging that designing and building climate adaptive buildings is not a choice—it's an imperative, this course explores the obstacles and opportunities that climate change poses for architects.

These courses are the first of three in AIA Resilience and Adaptation Online Series, developed by the AIA as part of the resilience and adaptation initiative. Other courses are currently in development; watch for them soon!

To get you started, here is a short document, “Understanding Resilience.”

Betsy Del Monte, FAIA, is a consultant with the firm of Cameron MacAllister Group, advisors to the design and construction professions.