Hurricane Sandy: It’s Now or Never

If any of us has been watching the news, or reading the papers, we are well aware that Hurricane Sandy truly made its presence known on the east coast over this past week. The devastation is at a level that may cause up to 20 billion dollars in damages. Though this hurricane really affects the families and business owners in such cities like New York City and Philadelphia, it gives us through out the world the idea of the storms that are becoming much more frequent in the past few years. In an article titled “Hurricane Sandy changes the trajectory of green design” by Eric Corey Freed, he states that in 2012, we are on track to have the warmest year on current record with 40,000 or so temperature records broken. That number is incredible when you think that that happened in only one year throughout the world. When will people start to realize that climate change is occurring and we really may have pushed Mother Nature too far with the way we inhabited this world.

Burnt Houses from Hurricane Sandy

entrance to subway station

In the article, Freed states that it is no longer time for architects to design to adapt to a warmer planet, we really need to push forward with our design and take a much more holistic approach to how we design. There is not only the carbon footprint, but also the ethical footprint. We as designers need to think critically about what materials we use, the availability of those materials, and how those materials work together to make the most sustainable infrastructure for the given site. New design programs, such as Architecture For Humanity, are coming together to work collaboratively to make a better tomorrow. No longer can we sit by and follow in the practices of previous architects. It is our time as developing architects to take such horrible disasters like Hurricane Sandy into consideration and figure out how we can design to avoid the consequences that we saw just last week. We are at atipping point in this earth’s lifetime and one step too far will send us over the edge.



  1. slett109

    This article caught my mind because I too believe what you are talking about. Yes global warming is a serious issue, and it needs to be addressed asap. There are many factors that play into a warmer planet. In your blog, you mentioned just that these things are happening, and not exactly what is causing them or what specifically can be done. You mentioned that building practices can be, and must be changed. I agree. Most buildings that are being built are not as developed in what materials they are using, or how those materials have an impact on the environment.

    One thing that I believe is behind the global warming movement being subdued is by big government, and by ignorance. Big government is controlled by rich men and rich politicians who are concerned for the moment only about making money off of big oil. Since they are in control of the economy and what and how we buy and live, they have a huge influence in what can be developed as a better substitute for oil, or another material.

    Also, ignorance is a major factor in not using different materials. Since most building technologies are used to building with old materials, then we must educate the new generation of designers and builders with the technology and knowledge of newer, greener, and better materials and how to apply them into new designs.

    Once the government looses their control on how much we depend on big oil, and it is currently happening, then new materials will start falling out of the sky. There will be more innovation in a year than in the last 10 years. Once this happens, green will replace big oil faster than the climate can change.

  2. kinde050

    After the devastation that occurred from Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, I find it frustrating that there are still those that believe climate change is not an issue, or one caused by human activity. Tom Zeller Jr.’s “In Hurricane Sandy’s Fury, the Fingerprint of Climate Change”, states “… a small but shrinking cadre of skeptics still question the basic mechanics of global warming — including the likelihood that a hotter planet will produce more powerful and deadly storms like Sandy — but the evidence is, once again, staring the nation in the face.” Zeller explains that fossil fuels emissions are increasing both the ocean temperature and the water vapor above it; the perfect recipe for a hurricane. Increased temperatures will create storms that are more intense with an increase in precipitation.

    In Mike Tidwell’s The Ravaging Tide, he discusses how insurance companies like Travelers and Munich Re are publishing pamphlets and compiling research about human and financial loss due to weather catastrophes over recent years—a completely new practice sparked by major losses to the companies. Munich Re’s report, “Severe Weather in North America”, claims that between 1980 and 2011, a total of $1 trillion was lost. Tidwell explains that insurance companies will no longer be able to afford damages due to natural disasters because they will be more extreme and more frequent.

    I completely agree that designers need to “think critically about what materials we use, the availability of those materials, and how those materials work together to make the most sustainable infrastructure for the given site.” Much like insurance companies, architects will have to rethink how they function in order to avoid devastating consequences.

    Zeller, Tom. “In Hurricane Sandy’s Fury, the Fingerprint of Climate Change.” Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2012. .

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