The Adaptive Triad of Science, Policy, and Design

Today’s pub­lic sec­tor and AEC pro­fes­sion­als have the chance – or, arguably, the oblig­a­tion – to trans­late the best avail­able infor­ma­tion into prac­tices that fos­ter heat resilience. At the begin­ning of the sym­po­sium, the Nation­al Ocean­ic and Atmos­pher­ic Administration’s (NOAA) Hunter Jones explained the cur­rent state of knowl­edge about the 20th-cen­tu­ry his­to­ry and 21st-cen­tu­ry pro­jec­tions of ris­ing tem­per­a­tures. Jones also out­lined efforts by NOAA, such as the new Nation­al Inte­grat­ed Heat and Health Infor­ma­tion Sys­tem, which will help orga­nize this evolv­ing knowl­edge base into forms that cit­i­zens and insti­tu­tion­al stake­hold­ers can apply in mak­ing deci­sions. In par­tic­u­lar, north­ern regions (his­tor­i­cal­ly the less heat-pre­pared part of the Unit­ed States) should antic­i­pate a future of ris­ing aver­age tem­per­a­tures and more fre­quent, longer, and more humid heat waves. In addi­tion, these regions can expect to expe­ri­ence less relief from noc­tur­nal cool­ing than in the past.

NOAA Climate Program Office's Hunter Jones underscores the projection that global average temperatures will continue to rise.

NOAA Cli­mate Pro­gram Office’s Hunter Jones under­scores the pro­jec­tion that glob­al aver­age tem­per­a­tures will con­tin­ue to rise.

New York City’s pub­lic sec­tor, long aware of the region’s acute vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to the urban heat island effect, address­es heat man­age­ment through mul­ti­ple pro­grams coor­di­nat­ed by the Office of Recov­ery and Resilien­cy. A pol­i­cy overview by Kizzy Charles-Guz­man, deputy direc­tor of Social Eco­nom­ic Resi empha­sized spe­cif­ic ther­mal adap­ta­tion mea­sures that are being tak­en, with­in the con­text of a com­pre­hen­sive effort to strength­en New York’s built envi­ron­ment and social struc­tures. The 2012 expe­ri­ence with Hur­ri­cane Sandy made it abun­dant­ly clear to today’s New York­ers that advanced prepa­ra­tion for nat­ur­al calami­ties saves lives and con­serves qual­i­ty of life. The City’s evolv­ing strate­gic plans (cur­rent­ly guid­ed by May­or Bill de Blasio’s One New York doc­u­ment) empha­size the insep­a­ra­bil­i­ty of equi­ty and resilience, the need for actions at the local scale, the util­i­ty of a “vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty index” in plan­ning inter­ven­tions, and the val­ue of mul­ti-part­ner col­lab­o­ra­tions.

Broad-based efforts to adapt com­po­nents of the built envi­ron­ment to ther­mal extremes are already under way. Andrew Whal­ley, AIA, of Grimshaw Archi­tects shared how some of the firm’s projects draw on estab­lished strate­gies from region­al cul­tures long accus­tomed to heat, while also incor­po­rat­ing more recent advances in engi­neer­ing, mate­ri­als, and para­met­ric design. Bio­phil­ia and bio­mime­sis are inte­gral to such projects’ per­for­mance, dri­ven by close obser­va­tion of nat­ur­al process­es. Organ­isms and ecosys­tems occu­py­ing the Earth’s hottest regions, Whal­ley not­ed, have much to teach us about evap­o­tran­spi­ra­tion, heat sources and sinks, water man­age­ment, cir­ca­di­an rhythms, and oth­er respons­es to solar gain.

Click here to read addi­tion­al insights by Jones, Charles-Guz­man, and Whal­ley.