The climate that we live in is changing.
- Hurricanes are getting stronger
- Heatwaves have become more common, with worse still to come
- So-called “permafrost” is melting, with a number of significant consequences…
- … and many more besides. If one thing is clear, it’s that the world we live in is changing.
For most of us, facts and data related to the climate are subjects we focus on through a personal lens. We think about our future; the future of our families; and the future of the human race as a whole.
However, if you are an entrepreneur, there is another strain of thought that needs to be added to the mix: the potential impact of a changing climate on your business – and, more specifically, your business premises. Below, we have put together a list of ideas that can ensure your premises are as prepared as possible for climate changes in future…
Examine your options for storm water management
When we think of hurricanes and severe storms, most of us focus on the ferocious winds as the primary cause of problems.
While it is important to be cautious of the harm winds can cause – which we will discuss in more detail in the next point – in the vast majority of cases, it’s actually storm waters and the flooding they produce that inflicts the most damage.
Not only do the problems caused by flooding have the potential to be catastrophically ruinous for buildings, but flood waters can also cause serious health concerns, so this is a problem that requires substantial consideration.
Unfortunately, many people feel that their control is limited when it comes to flooding: if the rain is going to come, it’ll come. However, this isn’t the case, and with effective stormwater management techniques, you have strong protection against floods in your business premises.
So, what are the best stormwater management techniques? There’s no neat answer to this; every building is different, and there are few techniques that are universally suitable.
Instead, stormwater management is about hiring the right engineers to consult on the methods your premises in particular can benefit from.
By focusing on finding a custom-designed solution, with the help of experts, you’ll be able to enjoy excellent protections that can prevent your business from experiencing catastrophic flooding in future.
Windproof your premises’ exterior
While the damage from stormwater is arguably the biggest threat from severe storms and hurricanes, it is also essential to focus on the most obvious threat: high winds.
It is difficult to exaggerate just how damaging high winds can be to a building. While advancements in building techniques have ensured that the days of hurricane-strength winds knocking down buildings are long past, storm winds still pose a substantial threat to your business.
The most obvious of these threats is to the exterior of the premises. It is incredibly important to take the time to assess areas of weakness on your premises, hiring a professional to assist with this task if required. Common areas of weakness include roof tiles and windows; if these are found wanting for strength, then making improvements is your priority.
In addition, it’s also worth thinking about the potential impact of high winds on your premises’ exterior features.
For example, if you use an awning, or have signage in your parking lot, check that these are very securely attached.
If these kinds of items come loose during high winds, they become a genuine threat, makeshift projectiles that can cause a high amount of damage to both people and buildings in the surrounding area.
Finally, it may also be beneficial to investigate windbreak options that may be suitable for your premises. While windbreaks cannot protect you completely against high winds, this is definitely a scenario where every little helps. Trees, in particular the trees on this list, make for excellent windbreaks, so it is well worth considering this option if your premises are in an exposed area.
Install an efficient heating and cooling system
Thus far we have focused on short-term issues; immediate threats that present a danger to your premises in the moment. While these areas should always be the first focus due to the severity of the issues they can cause, it’s also critical to think about more generalized measures.
By far the most important general concern is temperature. Temperatures are becoming more extreme, and it’s expected this trend will continue in the future: summers will be hotter, and winters will be colder. As a result, many people who have always thought they live in a mild or moderate climate may find they need additional protection against the extremes.
The simplest, and most efficient, way of protecting your premises against extreme temperatures is to install an efficient heating and cooling system, usually an HVAC.
These systems can ensure that, regardless of the weather, your interior space will always be safe and comfortable to work in.
By installing a system that is capable of protecting against extreme heat and extreme cold, you benefit from a simplified, two-for-one approach that should be robust enough to withstand anything future climate changes create.
With the above baseline established, let’s now explore the extra options available for managing the extremes of the temperature scale individually…
Insulate your premises
Insulation is usually described in domestic terms; we all know the importance of good quality insulation to ensuring our homes are comfortable to live in during the winter months.
However, insulation isn’t just a domestic product; there is a multitude of options available that can also benefit businesses. You should begin examining this area by inspecting your initial insulation, again contacting a professional for help with this task. When you have assessed your existing insulation, you can look towards making improvements and adding extra reinforcements wherever possible.
Shield your windows from UV rays
The summer of 2018 was a brutal one, with a global heatwave that was as long lasting as it was ferocious. Unfortunately, this heatwave was far from an anomaly – it might be odd compared to previous years, but it is expected that heat waves will become an all-too-common feature in the near future.
One of the reasons the 2018 heatwave caused such distress was that many companies – not to mention the general infrastructure of society – was simply unprepared for it.
To avoid a repeat scenario, investigate options that will allow your premises’ windows to block UV rays. These methods, which range from adding plastic coating to existing windows through to installing entirely new panes – can help to allow your premises are able to withstand even the hottest of days, keeping the interior cool and pleasant to work in.
Interestingly, it could be argued that investing in UV blocking could actually save you money. Like most business owners, you likely spent much of the summer of 2018 turning your air conditioning up to maximum, or – at the very least – running desk fans for long periods of time.
While these methods are necessary, they’re also incredibly expensive, spiking your energy bills as a result. Due to this, UV blocking technology could be considered a one-time investment that pays off for years to come; as the interior of your premises remains relatively cool, you can keep electric cooling to a minimum.
If the science is right and heatwaves are set to become more commonplace, you should find that UV blocking pays for itself within a few short years.
Install backup generators
As touched on above, extreme weather-related heat tends to lead to a commensurate strain on the power grid. As temperatures rise, so does electricity usage, which in turn can lead to rolling blackouts.
These blackouts occur when electricity companies experience a severely restricted supply – in California, rolling blackouts begin when the state’s reserves have fallen beneath 1.5%, for example – and are designed to prevent a whole-system collapse.
However, while rolling blackouts are undeniably necessary, they are also potentially ruinous for businesses.
First and foremost, all the technology that you rely on to run your business will be rendered next-to-useless. Secondly, your climate control measures will falter, which could mean that you have to send employees home due to concerns over rising internal temperatures.
The good news is that there is a solution: install backup generators, so you can always be sure that your business will have access to a steady stream of electricity.
While there is no denying that the installation of generators in your premises is rather expensive, it is nevertheless justifiable – and all the more so if you live in a particularly hot region or a state with a history of struggling to maintain an adequate electrical supply.
While the changing climate is undoubtedly a cause for concern for business owners, it can be reassuring to know that there are ways and means of readying your premises for the challenges to come.
The measures as presented above are cost-effective solutions that should be seen as worthwhile investments for the future; ensuring that your business can continue operations, whatever the weather.