Resilient Design: Forecasting Risk

Planning for resiliency is a multifaceted process that considers building type, business operations, and geographic location. Each building type–whether government, corporate, healthcare, or higher education–requires a targeted approach to forecasting risk. Government buildings requiring high-security measures face challenges different from hospitals that need to be operational 24/7 to deliver life-critical services. Yet each benefits from a strategic process that evaluates potential internal and external risks.

The first step toward a resilient future is forecasting risks to the project site and building operations based on four factors–natural disaster, climate, security, and infrastructure. Each factor is not equal and one may outweigh the other depending on individual building program and location.

To forecast natural disaster, building Owners must weigh the potential for floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural phenomena disrupting operations. Climate, on the other hand, may pose potential risk from rising sea levels for one building owner, while more extreme weather events or temperature variations could pose other risks for Owners in a different location.

Similarly, forecasting security measures for a public building such as an airport could require heightened screening against acts of terror, while an office building may screen employee and visitor traffic to manage safety, and an academic building may integrate strategies to monitor student safety on campus.

Finally, forecasting infrastructure looks at both the building systems and municipal utilities to evaluate how well the infrastructure is meeting current and future capacity based on growth projections, and whether there are any potential risks of the utility providers being unable to provide services for a given period of time.

By prioritizing the potential impact of natural disaster, climate, security and infrastructure, building Owners can determine which poses the highest risk to their business, and then plan resilient strategies accordingly to resume operations after a disruption. Forecasting risk will not necessarily prevent disruption–but it can minimize the negative and costly impact. In the next post, we will discuss assessing those risks and their potential impact on a building, site, and operations.