Guest blogger Susan Pranger is an architect and Boston resident. The following blog post summarizes the study she recently completed as her capstone project at the Boston Architectural College for a master of design studies (MDS) in sustainable design. The buildings at HBI’s prospective project at 1786 Fowler Clark Farm in Mattapan were among those Susan used to model some of her recommendations for preparing historic structures to withstand the impacts of new weather associated with temperature changes.
Now is the time to prepare for the impacts of Global Warming on historic buildings. It is no longer sufficient to focus only on reducing energy consumption and related emissions; we must also prepare for the inevitable impacts.
The general consensus among scientists is that Global Warming is already happening and is irreversible, although the rate of change and the severity will depend on our actions to reduce emissions. The risk of severe storms, changes in habitat, and both local and global changes will increase with the rise with the global temperature.
Changes in sea level, temperature, and solar radiation (UVB) may be occurring gradually, but their impact on weather patterns is complex and can occur suddenly. This past winter’s record snowfall in New England and the related ice dam damage has possible roots in global warming:
“Warmer air is capable of holding more moisture- so a generally warmer atmosphere will hold more precipitation, even in the winter. As with heat waves, the frequency of such events are generally decreasing, but their intensity is increasing (as shown by the devastating blizzards in February 2010 in the mid-Atlantic region)” (Climate Institute n.d.)