"The Climate-Safe Houses of the Future"

"When Brandon Jorgensen picked up the phone, he was in the middle of staging his latest house in Napa, California. “We are getting very very close to, I wouldn’t say fireproofing, but fire-resisting a house,” Jorgensen, an architect, said, speaking from the home’s driveway. He described the eight-inch (20-centimeter) wall of the house he’s building, layered like a cake. There’s a corrugated steel skin, a vapor barrier, aluminum foil-layered fiberboard, cement, and some fire-resistant drywall, all of which create a series of challenges for a potential fire to work through. When all is said and done, this house, Jorgensen said, has around a four-hour fire rating, meaning that “a fire could be right next to it, burning for four hours at 1400-plus degrees [Fahrenheit, or 760 degrees Celsius], and the house would stand.”

As climate change hits our world, our homes are increasingly coming under attack from raging fires, fierce storms, skyrocketing temperatures, and rising seas. The idea of weather-resilient homes of the future often conjure up images of Jetsons-like cities floating on water or geodesic domes that guard against heavy wind or rain. The eco-cool mansions of the rich and famous, which are often front-and-center in architectural publications, can make anyone think that the future of sustainable and climate-resilient homes are only for the wealthy and imaginative.

But, experts say, building climate-resilient homes is actually possible now—and they look a lot like the homes or apartments of the present day. Some of the things blocking our homes from becoming as resilient as they can be aren’t the need for new technologies, but simply a question of shaking up the world of regulations and code."

Molly Taft reports for Earther July 13, 2021.

Source: Earther, 07/14/2021