A close up of a sign
01/24/2019 | BY JANELLE PENNY

What are you worried about in 2019?

The World Economic Forum recently named extreme weather as the biggest risk on a global scale this year, followed by concerns over climate change.

Climate change leapfrogged to the second spot from its fifth-place rank last year, due in part to worsening international relations that make it harder to adapt on a global scale. However, its impacts are felt down to the individual building level.

In fact, four of the top five problems on the 2019 World Economic Forum Global Risks Report have serious implications for facilities managers.

Here’s how this year’s four biggest global risks affect you and your facility.

A pile of snow1. Extreme Weather
Storms that are stronger and more frequent than those in years past are a concern for any facilities manager. Buildings are built based on an understanding of past weather hazards. When those hazards get more severe, you may end up with higher flood waters, longer droughts and bitter winters that your building wasn’t built to handle.

Mitigating the impacts of extreme weather starts with looking at your building’s vulnerabilities and the types of weather that are typical for your region. For example, areas with extremely cold winters and hot summers can expect both of those seasons to get more extreme as the years go by. If your building is in a location like that, it might be worth investing in redundancy for both heating and air conditioning.

A close up of food2. Failed Climate Change Mitigation
The impact of climate change is most evident in the role it’s believed to play in two other entries on the list, extreme weather (No. 1) and natural disasters (No. 3). Nearly every aspect of operating a building is impacted by the climate, such as:

Stormwater mitigation, which might not be capable of handling the more severe rains of the future

Drier and more arid areas that carry an increased risk of fire, requiring buildings to beef up fire detection, mitigation and suppression infrastructure

Warmer summers, which drive up energy costs through an increased demand for air conditioning (a phenomenon that then places extra strain on the electrical grid)

Higher winds that can impact the roof, especially for buildings in areas that haven’t previously required high wind uplift resistance

A group of people in front of a sunset3. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters have remained in the top five for several years, and for good reason. The same flaws that make existing buildings vulnerable to extreme weather naturally mean that disaster-level weather events are also a threat.

Even if you’re compliant with the latest building codes, that doesn’t necessarily mean your building will be functional after a natural disaster – or even a severe weather event, for that matter. It only means that the building won’t fail catastrophically in the middle of the storm. People will be able to get out safely, but you might not be able to continue operating your building right away.

Look at ways to shore up your existing defenses or otherwise mitigate the impact from natural disasters. In some cases, that might mean hardening your building to keep the elements out. In others, you might focus on ways to let the storm pass through with the least possible interference in normal operations.

For example, concrete construction and a lack of soft surfaces in parking facilities and ground-level building floors allows flood water to move in and out without contaminating any porous materials.

You’ll also need a strong business continuity plan that will allow your organization to keep functioning even if some or all of the building is temporarily closed. Source. 

 

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