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20 COOPERATORNEWS CHICAGOLAND  —EXPO 2021  CHICAGO.COOPERATORNEWS.COM  ENERGY & THE ENVIRONMENT  The reality of climate change is upon  coasts and  shores—including along  the  storms up and down the East Coast, and   us. Weather patterns have changed, and  shore of Lake Michigan.  seasons have been altered. We experience   more intense heat, more frequent, de-  structive storms, wide-ranging wildfires,  han, owner and president of Blooming-  and more destructive cold. Tornadoes—  the spawn of conflicting hot and cold air  Structural Technologies. In recent years,  far west as Michigan Avenue. The lake is   masses—touch down in places they were  he says, “The lake’s water level has risen  already two feet higher, and that backfill   once almost unheard of. What was sci-  entific prognostication only a few years  tensity and runoff. The result has been  It’s an iconic address, and owners are very   ago has become reality. It’s also a reality  significant erosion of the shoreline, espe-  that most of the structures that house our  cially around Chicago and into Indiana  footings because of the rising water table.   homes—particularly high-rise multifami-  ly buildings—were not designed for these  shearing off and falling into the lake. The  Building pilings are on bedrock, but the   types of changing climate events. While  trend and the damage are significant. In  steel is exposed to water and can corrode.   that’s a chilling thought, today’s commu-  nities have no choice but to deal with that  have been put in or reinforced. Seawalls—  reality, as well as plan for what may be  including gigantic stones to act as break-  ahead.   The New Reality  Perhaps the two most pressing and  building collapse problems.”  dramatic ramifications of climate change   currently facing our communities are the  fronts,”  says  Kevin  Keating,  an  architect  He  explains that  these new extremes  in   rise in sea level and the increasing fre-  quency and severity of storms and other  tectural  firm, echoing  Mahan’s  analy-  weather events. More concerningly, these  sis. For oceanfront communities in New  requiring more maintenance and earlier   two events often overlap, causing even  York, New Jersey, Florida, and New Eng-  greater peril. The worry is particularly  land, for instance, rising sea level is the   severe for communities built along our  biggest issue. Combine that with bigger  principal of New York-based RAND En-  “The real impact in the Midwest has  fortify the properties against the combi-  involved Lake Michigan,” says Phillip Ma-  dale, Illinois-based engineering firm  “\[The city\] is built on silt and backfill as   by two feet due to increased storm in-  and Michigan—whole sections of land are  The problem we face is destabilized soils.   an effort to stave off the damage, pilings  Corrosion of steel within pilings and re-  walls to protect building foundations—  have been built, but we do have potential  Howard Zimmerman, owner and founder   “The biggest issue is along our water-  with Selldorf Architects, a global archi-  you must ask the question of how we will   nation of these two factors.   In Chicago’s case, Mahan explains,   is saturated. Lakeshore Drive is at risk.   concerned about the stabilization of their   bar is the major issue.”  On a more global, macro level, “Hot-  ter is hotter, and colder  is colder,”  says   of New York-based consultancy Howard   Zimmerman Architects & Engineers.   temperature  add  stress  to  our  building   systems, reducing their useful life and   replacement.    Peter Varsalona, vice president and   gineering, brings up yet another concern:   with worsening extremes of hot and cold,   existing HVAC systems require more   energy to maintain comfortable (or just   livable) interior temperatures. This in-  creased energy usage in turn exacerbates   the original problem of human-made car-  bon emissions. So not only does climate   change cause more extreme conditions,   but the extreme conditions it causes re-  quire still more energy to mediate, which   in turn worsens the see   where this is going.   How Much Worse?  The reality is that the situation is likely   to get worse before it gets better. Years of   inaction and over-politicization of the is-  sue have given human industry the up-  per hand when it comes to impact on the   planet. The United Nations Intergovern-  mental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)   released its most recent report on the is-  sue on August 9, 2021. Among its sobering   findings was that averaged over the next   20 years, global temperature is expected   to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming—a   rubicon  of  sorts  that  climate  scientists   say will result in increasing heat waves,   longer warm seasons, and shorter cold   seasons. According to the press release   accompanying the report’s publication,   “Unless there are immediate, rapid, and   large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas   emissions,  limiting  warming  to  close  to   1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach”—  and once that line is crossed, many of the   more dire consequences of a quickly heat-  ing planet will be unavoidable.    “We don’t know how fast it will wors-  en,” says Mahan.  “Lake levels are ex-  pected to continue to rise.  In the past we   built with no ability to control runoff into   lakes.    Within  10  years,  we  may  have  a   major catastrophe on our hands. Mitiga-  tion should have started a decade ago. We   always had a lake effect on our weather,   but now those numbers are bigger, and   we’re getting storms and tornadoes like   we have never seen before.  What we need   to do immediately is reduce our carbon   footprint, which is causing a microcli-  mate within the city. We need green roofs   and solar-reflecting ‘white roof’ systems   to reduce heat gain. Another big factor is   the increase in glass buildings that don’t   Climate Change & Residential Communities  A New Reality Raises New Challenges   BY A. J. SIDRANSKY  continued on page 30 

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