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Letter: Better buildings needed in era of climate change

A recent Buffalo News story detailed FEMA’s cycle of response, payout and rebuild. FEMA spends too many resources responding to emergencies. A more proactive focus on better building strategies could efficiently prevent catastrophic loss.

Meanwhile, a recent Margaret Sullivan column in The News calls for the media step up its efforts on climate change reporting. As a public service, the media could highlight actions that can prevent climate change or mitigate its catastrophic effects.

A recent picture in The News shows a lone reinforced concrete house that withstood Hurricane Michael. Amid the debris that used to constitute a neighborhood, the home stands as proof that there is a more sustainable way to build.

FEMA and insurance companies should insist on rebuilding homes and businesses with only energy-efficient, storm-proof buildings. This would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent cyclical catastrophic loss.

Building owners, designers, and developers need to come together and agree to construct only storm-proof and energy-efficient structures of all kinds. The business case for energy-efficient buildings has been made many times over, and the business case for storm-proof buildings is self-evident.

Fortunately, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 88, all state-funded projects are supposed to use the most energy-efficient and cost-effective materials. Unfortunately, this order is nearly universally ignored.

The News could perform a public service by detailing the specific energy conservation measures taken by each major development it reports on. Readers may discover new information, developers can share solutions, and we might all get better buildings.

Marty J. Walters


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