The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced at Greenbuild International Conference and Expo—taking place in Boston from Nov. 8– 10—that it will formally adopt RELi, a resilient construction standard initially developed in 2012 by the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability, Perkins + Will, and others.
“The increasing frequency of dramatic events has brought an even greater urgency to create buildings and communities that are better adapted to a changing climate and better able to bounce back from disturbances and interruptions,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, USGBC president and CEO in a press release. “We are committed to scaling RELi to become a national and international rating system managed by USGBC and its partner Green Business Certification (GCBI)."
Like the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, RELi utilizes a point system across various credit categories and already includes LEED prerequisites for sustainable practices. But it introduces new criteria for resilient design including: fundamental access to first aid, emergency supplies, water, food, and communications; adaptive design for extreme rain, sea rise, storm surge, and extreme weather, events, and hazards; develop or expand local skills, capabilities, and long-term employment; provide for social equity and edible landscaping, urban agriculture, and resilient food production.
“Resilience planning must be thorough. It must consider all of the ripple effects—what we call ‘cascading consequences’—of shocks and stressors,” said Janice Barnes, global resilience director and co-director of the Resilience Research Lab at Perkins+Will in a press release. “Our communities, our neighborhoods, and our buildings are all interconnected. If an electric sub-station miles away from your building gets flooded by an extreme rain event, you could experience a power outage. If your local economy is weakened by globalization, this could impact your financial stability, access to services, and health and wellbeing. The comprehensive nature of RELi is a response to this, allowing for hazard preparation and adaptation, as well as chronic risk mitigation.”
While it is unclear if RELi will be incorporated completely into LEED or continue as its own set of standards, GCBI is “leading the further refinement of RELi to synthesize the LEED Resilient Design pilot credits with RELi’s Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation credits,” according to the GCBI press release. As such, GCBI is creating a steering committee—chaired by Perkins+Will senior associate and RELi 1.0 principal investigator Doug Pierce—to “bring resilience into actionable, mainstream thinking for the design, construction and operation of buildings.”