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Sustainable measures and hurricane preparedness go hand in hand

SONIA BROWN
sbrown@graphitebahamas.com

Published: Jul 02, 2013

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The annual hurricane season began about 30 days ago, and by now, you should already have a plan in place for how to protect your property and return swiftly to business should an event occur. There has been a lot of talk about recent storms being worse than ever before and there is a rush to blame climate change. While I accept that some of the weather events may be due to changes in climate, we must not adopt the approach that there is little we can do.

The truth is that much of our strategies to conserve, more efficiently use energy and utilize renewables will serve us well during hurricane season and will reduce the level of additional preparation necessary.

A good example is an investment in Bahama style window shutters that are great if placed on east and west facing windows. They provide shading all year round and make it unnecessary to purchase plywood to cover windows each time a storm threatens. These shutters can be easily closed down to provide protection for windows during hurricanes.

In recent years, ICF or Insulated Concrete Forms have become quite popular as a means of increasing the R-value of walls, thus helping to keep buildings cooler throughout the year while providing the same level of hurricane protection as concrete blocks. But the former does a much better job of helping to reduce energy costs.

The opinions are divided on whether solar panels need to be removed during a storm with most firms reporting that properly installed panels on well-built roofs have been able to sustain 90-100 mile per hour winds. Indeed these systems that help reduce your monthly energy expense can also help get your power up and running quickly after the storm.

Similarly, progressive initiatives to capture and store rain water for daily use can translate into no or limited interruption in water supply during or after hurricanes. Older systems have used elevated tanks making the most of gravity to provide the water pressure needed to operate fixtures. A more aesthetically pleasing option would be to use a solar powered pump, providing more options for the location of an unsightly rain storage tank.

If there is no backup power at all at your facility, there are many options of solar lights rated for indoors and outdoors to provide basic illumination enough to get manual processes up and running until full power is restored. The solar array for the light can be charged outdoors or by a window.

Let’s not forget the flashlights and radios powered by your muscles through shaking, squeezing or a crank action, indeed whatever suits your fancy.

 

• We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to sbrown@graphitebahamas.com. Sonia Brown is principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd. and is a registered professional engineer.

 

 
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