The Resilience Design Institute defines resilience as the capacity to adapt to changing conditions and maintain or regain functionality and vitality in the face of stress or disturbance.


In resilient construction, construction methods and materials are employed to build structures that are more able to handle adverse weather conditions and climate changes. Simple methods such as tighter building envelopes and stronger materials are combined with cutting-edge technologies to create building resilience.

The concept of resilient construction is not new. However, changing weather patterns have increased the relevance of these concepts more than ever. It is paramount that we understand these dangers and mitigate the risk.

Read NOAA’s Report of US Billion-Dollar Weather & Climate Disasters from 1980-2021


  • Robustness

The ability to continue critical operations and functions through a crisis. This includes the building itself, the design of the infrastructure, or in the system redundancy and substitution.

  • Resourcefulness

It is the ability to plan, respond, and manage disruptions and effectively as they unfold. Determine the plan of action and implement it; train employees; manage the supply chain; identify control and mitigation measures; communicate effectively.

  • Rapid Recovery

the ability to return to and/or reconstitute normal operations as quickly and efficiently as possible after a disruption. Components of rapid recovery include carefully drafted contingency plans, competent emergency operations, and the means to get the right people and resources to the right places.

  • Redundancy

Is proposed as another key feature, which means that there are backup resources to support the originals in case of failure that should also be considered when planning for resilience.


You may be wondering; do I need to worry about this? Before jumping into buying hurricane safety windows, it is important to consider what levels of resilience your specific project calls for. There are many factors that can play into this, such as if you are planning to renovate an existing structure and have limitations or if you are given an open slate with a new build. There are numerous questions you may want to ask yourself or your team. How long is this building to last? If your project is to last only 15 years some of these resilient features maybe not be worth it.  What natural disasters affect the location of this project? If there has never been an earthquake in that zip code, for example, it makes no sense to prepare an earthquake-proof building. Then, of course, there is the importance of balancing first costs and then the long-term savings.

“True resilience isn’t about managing a particular instance of risk but being ready for anything through the way you operate”

Google Executive


Natural Disasters. It is important to be aware of the natural disasters that the area you’re planning to build or renovate is prone to. These natural disasters can come at any time and without notice but it is critical we do what we can to mitigate the disastrous effects.

  • Earthquakes– These often happen in the area known as the ‘Ring of fire’, which is an area around the Pacific Ocean that is characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. This can range from a small tremor that knocks a few things off the wall to a total collapse depending on the magnitude of the earthquake.  Shockproof buildings have been a study for engineers since the beginning of construction, looking into major structural components but it is critical to have a design that allows people to exit quickly.
  • Wildfires – In areas susceptible to wildfires, building engineers can turn to higher efficiency or alternative charcoal filters to reduce the volume of outside air entering the building.
  • Hurricanes– Arguably, the most destructive natural disasters. Architects can design a system with a structure that works with the force of nature rather than against it, for example, the aerodynamic design will prevent pressure build-ups from the wind at any one part of the building.
  • Tornadoes – The extreme winds of up to 250mph can lift almost anything. Measures can be taken such as meeting building codes, impact-resistant windows, and impact-resistant doors.
  • Floods– 30% of Continental US is at risk of flooding each spring with that in mind it is important to know the expected flood levels in your project’s area and the elevate and build above it to limit the potential damage.

“40% of Businesses do not re-open following a major disaster”


Human-Caused Disasters. In the rapidly changing world we live in it is essential to be aware of how human-influenced disasters can impact our built environment.

  • Cybersecurity– Our increasing reliance on technology, it has only made cybersecurity a growing resilience challenge. It is critical to understand the impact on the larger infrastructure system, for example, looking for ways to sustain operations when a cyberattack takes down power, water, gas, or other similar critical utilities
  • Public Health – Health threats have become an increased concern since the beginning of the pandemic. It is important to consider what can confront us in enclosed spaces and how/if we can prevent the spread. This could involve careful consideration of space planning, air quality, and HVAC System capacities.
  • Economic Disruption– Just coming out of a global pandemic, we have seen how cities have complete halt and commercial buildings were left for months on end with no tenants.


New materials and techniques are constantly becoming available. As fast as they are coming out the requirements are changing. It requires management’s commitment to resilience; it must be a priority to make it work. Here are few proven techniques.

  • Daylighting– an energy-saving technique that makes the best out of natural light, specifically helpful in power outages because natural daylight is enough, so it does not cause any disruption when electric lighting is unavailable.
  • Low Carbon Materials – Using materials such as wood, bamboo, and low-energy input masonry.
  • Stormwater Management–site orientate and landscape to reduce runoff of rainwater into streets, lawns, and other areas and ultimately reduce flooding.
  • Flood Resistant Materials– Concrete, rubber, treated lumber and metal are……….
  • Better Building Envelopes– this refers to the separation between the exterior of the building, saving energy by preventing the transfer of heat in or out of the building.


Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. HOK designed this $1.5Bilion, 2 million square feet masterpiece, including four thousand solar panels that can power nine Atlanta Falcons games on solar energy alone.

Miami Beach Convention Center designed by Fentress Architects won LEED Silver for its hurricane-resistant façade


For anyone who has experienced a natural disaster understands that a resilient future is a no-brainer. Yet there is no question that the addition of building resilience is only another layer of complexity to the already complex construction process.  It all comes down to preparedness. At Abbott, we identify possible threads and develop a thorough risk management strategy outlining how these risks will be managed, classified and evaluated.  Our goal at Abbott is to mitigate the risks we have spoken about.

Delivering Predictable Outcomes, In an Unpredictable World.

For Further Information Contact:

Randy Thomas Managing Principal, Project & Program Manager T: 800-250-3181 D: 202-602-2199


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