How to design your home for resilience

In these climate-stressed, energy-challenged times, we all need to build for resilience. Think about your own home. Faced with extreme weather (or seismic) events, will your house keep you warm, dry and safe? Can it handle rising energy costs? Does it offer you financial security? What about food security? The resilient home overcomes these challenges with three key characteristics: energy-efficiency, self-sufficiency, and longevity.

Resilience by design means a reduced footprint and lower energy needs. Some or all of those needs can be met using alternative energy. Passive solar heating and natural ventilation, for example, are low-cost and work during power outages. Rooms should be designed to maximize natural light, cooking can be fueled by solar or biogas and good insulation and efficient pumps, light bulbs, etc. are a given. Using locally sourced materials will also save energy costs related to transportation.

All of these factors will enhance your home’s self-sufficiency. Other simple strategies include collecting water from your roof into a cistern, devoting more garden space to growing food and choosing hardy native ornamentals to attract pollinators. Make space to preserve and store that homegrown produce, and capture and re-use greywater. Design your home to help you become a net producer instead of a consumer.

Longevity comes from durability and timelessness of design. Choose the best-quality materials you can afford –no particle board! Avoid useless, trend-driven design elements, and opt for a classic look that will look great well into the future. Make sure that the home blends well with your neighbourhood and its natural surroundings.

To extend the life of your house, create and follow a sound maintenance plan. Your home really is your single biggest investment, so design for resilience. Now more than ever, it can make a difference in your life, the life of your community and beyond.


John Gower is the principal at Gower Design Group, specializing in modern homes with a focus on sustainability. He can be reached at 250-871-8765 or

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