Building for Floods
A New Orleans prototype home may provide a path for builders looking to design and construct houses that can withstand rising sea levels and intense storms.
Synopsis: With sea levels rising and hurricanes causing catastrophic flooding, it makes sense for the residential design market to plan for resilient homes that anticipate storms and the rising waters that follow, but these projects remain outliers in the current market. This article describes some of the obstacles to creating more resilient houses, including decisions by insurance companies, high costs, and risk-averse builders. It describes how the Green Dream 2 prototype home in New Orleans, built in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, directly answers uncertainties about how to design in areas prone to flooding. A detailed drawing explains the flood-hardy assembly, including hurricane ties, adjustable concrete piers, impact-rated windows, and fiber-cement siding over foil-faced polyiso, housewrap, and treated plywood sheathing and studs.
According to Vol. I of the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive federal climate report released in 2017, the global sea level has risen 7 in. to 8 in.…