Integrating crisis-resilience becomes a matter of course

April 2 2020

For the program 'Making vulnerable neighborhoods more sustainable' I am looking for international examples of 'pairing chances’. These are measures that you can take in a neighborhood as you're already in the process of taking things in hand because of the energy transition. And what strikes me? That in sustainable neighborhoods where there was a crisis, integrating crisis- resilience has become a matter of course.

The first net-zero energy residential area in Japan, SMAxECOtown Harumidai in Sakai, is an example of this. In 2011, an earthquake struck nearby Harumidai, resulting in a melting nuclear reactor and a tsunami. In this newly built eco-neighborhood, a solar power station has therefore been constructed and all homes are equipped with batteries for energy storage, allowing people to be independent in terms of energy consumption. There is also a rainwater tank in case the water supply stops and at the community center there is a large car parking lot where electricity can be tapped from electric cars in case of an emergency. In addition, the community center also offers cooking, sanitary, and other facilities for many people in the event of an emergency.

And in Toronto, often hit by floods, the approach of SNAP (Sustainable Neighborhood Action Program) always makes a neighborhood as climate-proof as possible, with particular attention to the drainage of water in case of extreme weather conditions. There is also always a lot of attention for urban horticulture. This is due to the need for greenery and the high price of vegetables, but also to be self-sufficient in the event of a crisis.

As for now, this kind of matters received little attention by us. I am very curious to see whether that will change now, as we are also experiencing a crisis up close. It would be wise to turn self-sufficiency into an important opportunity within the energy transition. After all, we now know that being detached from our familiar world can also affect us.

Anke van Hal is Professor of Sustainable Building and Development at Nyenrode Business University.

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