How to build resilience into your portfolio

Article By:

CEO | Chief Innovation Officer

While acknowledging the numerous advantages of modernization and technological advancements, there is no denying the several pitfalls that come along with them.

And perhaps, one of the most significant examples is the ever-increasing occurrences, intensity and impacts of natural disasters.

It may come as no surprise that various real estate firms are trying to develop effective ways to build resilience into their property portfolios in an effort to manage these types of events. As market uncertainty continues to skyrocket, it becomes all the more important to build resilience in a way that confirms with long term investment goals.

The question then becomes: how do you do it?

Fortunately, there are numerous ways that you can build resilience into your portfolio to suit the diverse investment market. In the following sections, I talk about how risk mitigation, landscape architecture and community resilience as a whole have an active role in this regard.

Let’s get to the details on building resilience into your portfolio:

1. Implementing Mitigation Strategies

No resilience strategy can be complete without focusing on potential natural disasters and hazards. While you may not be able to predict their occurrence per se, the least you can do is formulate mitigation strategies to effectively counter the various consequences. Here, it’s important to note that such measures shouldn’t be exclusively limited to safeguarding only the physical structure. Other factors like evacuation policies should also have equal attention.

Some common mitigation measures involve ensuring that equipment like pumps and fuel storages are placed in safe and dry spaces. Additionally, you may also consider wet or dry flood proofing for the ground floor to minimize related damages.

For areas that experience frequent power disruptions, installing alternative power generation sources should also find a preference.

The measures of neighboring buildings can also impact the safety of your infrastructure. For example, any failure in securing projectiles during a wind event can directly damage your building.

Apart from physical damages, the financial damages of natural disasters should also be taken into account. Costs related to repairs, insurance claims, lawsuits and declining credit ratings will inevitably affect future investments.

2. Landscape Architecture

Upgrading your building’s design to combat potential disasters and damages is a good practice. However, it shouldn’t overlook the importance of building resilience even before the infrastructure is affected. And this is where landscape architecture comes into the picture.

Since landscape architecture involves nature and its processes in designing; it can reduce risks, adapting to climatic changes, all while making the place aesthetically and ecologically functional. But it isn't a one-step procedure. Landscape architects consult engineers, planners, disaster management forces and so on to design layouts that improve safety and response.

Understandably, landscape architecture adopts various measures that specifically cater to the consequences of multiple natural hazards. Two of the most commonly used techniques are:

A. Green Roofs

Green roofs are becoming a popular means of addressing urban resilience. These are simply roofs covered fully or partially with vegetation planted over a waterproof membrane (and, in many cases, a reinforced structure). Green roofs play a vital role in distributing and reducing heat penetration in buildings.

Furthermore, in tandem with drainage and irrigation systems, green roofs prevent stormwater from flooding sewage and treatment plants. Their retention capacity, therefore, saves potential costs of installing ponds or bio-retention tanks. The resultant ‘free’ space can be used for future developments and investments.

B. On-Site Water Detention

For areas that experience high rainfall, building floodwater detention tanks reduces the impact of the damage. Also known as on-site water detention systems (ODS), these tanks temporarily house surface water runoff. Based on the design, an ODS can be constructed either below or above the ground.

In the case of below-ground storage, concrete tanks collect stormwater and release it at a controlled rate, so that downstream areas are free from damage or erosion.

On the other hand, an above ground ODS is designed in a way that blends with the surroundings. The typical setup includes a sloping grassed area in the front garden or retaining walls that collect the water. If designed correctly, some bigger retention areas may also double up as public spaces when not in use.

Through choice of materials, plant placement, and species selection based on the specific site context, landscape architects can help to manage other disaster prevention relating to storm water/flood management, heat absorption and even effectively prevent fire breakouts from spreading.

3. Community Resilience

Mitigation strategies and landscape architecture can’t take on resilience-building alone. Until community resilience makes greater strides, the job will remain incomplete. If the connecting roads remain inaccessible or communication systems and utilities rare down, even the most resilient building will lose value following a disaster.

Hence, owners and contractors should actively involve state and local policy makers to explain the significance of their infrastructure in the area. Additionally, they should also encourage proper investment and development to keep their building functional in all situations.

To Sum Up…

Most real estate firms use a combination of practices to build resilience into their respective portfolios. But even then, a hundred percent success isn't guaranteed.

This is because the situation at hand is constantly changing—be it financial, economical, or ecological. In times like these, keeping up with these changes is what will keep things on track. Just because your area didn’t flood from excess rain in the past doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future. And with increasing frequencies of large-scale weather events,  if it happened only once in the last ten, 50, or even 100 years, doesn’t mean that you can expect it to take that long to come around again.

Although modern technologies can predict natural disasters to some extent, the various impacts can remain largely unknown. And dealing with such consequences requires resilience on all levels.

While a well-equipped building is essential, resilient communities and surroundings ensure comprehensive support to help your business bounce back after a mishap. After all, who doesn’t like investing in a property that’s capable of handling it all?

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