Codes, resilience and climate change

Codes, resilience and climate change

Oct 7th, 2020

Many clients are dealing with a conundrum at the cross between codes, resilience and climate change. Solving it is paramount for tactical and strategic planning purposes.

Codes, resilience and climate change

Code compliance is not synonymous with resilience

When facing good-old hazards that are becoming more frequent and more intense, perhaps due to climate change, it is easy to realize that code compliance becomes meaningless.

Indeed, codes work for the “good old way”, both in terms of resilience and frequency. A code compliant solution may indeed be very fragile, not resilient at all.

Just to give one example from our next book that deals specifically with these “run-away” risks, we suggested a large food factory exposed to flooding to rebuild piece by piece their plant hangars/processes on 2m high fills. In addition, we advised them to install all their electrical commands on the roofs. Of course, the plant was “code complaint” to start with, but that was certainly not enough, given it was flooded twice in ten years before our intervention.

Let’s be clear, no such decision should be made “lightly” without first understanding what the detailed risks and side-effects are, and one has to very carefully study their project.

Ten commandments for resilience enhancement

A while ago we wrote a blogpost about the 10 commandments for resilient design. They are the synthesis of our world-wide experience of risk-based decision making in risk mitigation and sustainability enhancements. At Riskope, we believe they can be used to suggest preliminary ideas.  In the table below we present an example with respect to hurricane winds potentially hitting a client’s plant.

1) Never rely on the properties of a single material/ component:  Have emergency stocks of key products and raw material, if possible distanced and protected.

2) Ensure that redundancies are true: Try to find ways to protect from power outages. If two same machines or lines are operating ensure they are distanced and fed independently.

3) Avoid at all cost fragile failures: Avoid putting all eggs in one basket.

4) Promote ductile failures: Prepare emergency readiness plans, drill them.

5) Ensure that failure does not propagate: If the prior four points are ok, you should be good to go.

6) Limit and control inter-dependencies: Check all ingress/egress, logistics, neighboring infrastructural networks.

7) Understand your system and keep an eye on its evolution: Update risk assessment.

8) Avoid sliding into normalization of deviance: Ensure swift reporting of anomalous behavior/unplanned changes. React to planned changes that may alter the system: e.g. new substation, new tanks, new parkades, etc.

9) Understand the limits of what you know and what you do not know you do not know: Have a regular third-party review. Finally,

10) Adapt your design and maintain your systems: Act swiftly on recommendation of risk updates and third-party reviews.

Closing remarks to codes, resilience and climate change

Of course above we have given general ideas to solve the codes, resilience and climate change conundrum.

Before implementation you will need to discuss them, perform risk assessments and finally vet them with respect to climate change projections.

You will have to pay close attention to “secondary effects” of your decisions. Furthermore you should evaluate any alternative using risk-adjusted cost estimates  rather that the obsolete and misleading NPV.

Only then you will be able to state that you have performed a risk-informed rational and sustainable resilience enhancement plan.

Finally, getting to the end of this is a project in itself.

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Category: Crisis management, Risk analysis, Risk management

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