Climate change has been wreaking havoc around the world, so much so that climate proofing of cities and houses against hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and floods is becoming increasingly important. The recent damage from floods in KwaZulu-Natal is demanding a rethink on infrastructure while Cape Town is already fortifying the V&A Waterfront against rising tides using rocks. We are starting to see numerous innovations in this space. A floating city in the Maldives has begun to take shape, big enough to house 20,000 people. Australian designers have developed an award winning prototypical bushfire resistant house made from locally sourced, recycled steel frames and mounted on reinforced concrete pilings. Bushfires pose a severe risk to homes in eastern Australia. The Netherlands has designed houses that have a buoyant, air-filled concrete base. These homes will rise with rising waters.
Why is it important?
Climate proofing houses translates into homes lasting longer, fewer people being displaced and less funding from the government needed for disaster management after a climate-related event. There are also implications for insurance. According to KPMG’s 2021 South African Insurance Industry Survey, 29% of South African insurance company CEOs see climate change as the biggest threat to growth. (Note: the recent loadshedding in SA may have pushed power supply into pole position for many CEOs). Global weather-related losses in 2020 equated to $268bn, of which only $97bn was insured. Safer homes and property means that the risk of damage is lessened which translates into lower premiums and fewer claims.
What can businesses do about it?
The examples above illustrate how businesses are coming up with innovative solutions that protect buildings from extreme weather due to climate change. We should see more of these in the coming years. This also represents a business opportunity for start-ups to come up with climate-proofing solutions. Insurance companies should comprehensively incorporate climate change into their business strategy to minimise exposure to weather-related losses. In the future a growing number of buildings will be built to be climate resilient.
By Faeeza Khan
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