Climate Change and your Investment – Building Resilience and Adaptation
In the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated some Caribbean islands in 2017, the impact of climate change on the region has been brought to the fore. Though the Caribbean islands’ contribution to the causes of climate change is minimal, our location exposes us to the physical impacts such as coastal erosion and hurricane destruction. Over the past decades Barbados has undergone significant change in the use of its land both inland and along the coastline and the threat to the island is further compounded as tourism is our main economic driver.
Several climate change hazards impact Barbados, and by extension the Caribbean, which affect the physical landscape of the islands with serious economic and social repercussions. These hazards are the outcome of global warming due to trapped greenhouse gases (GHG) and the attendant ‘greenhouse gas effect’.
In the region we often build physical infrastructure without developing a Forward Maintenance Plan (FMP). The adoption of proactive maintenance strategies will reduce the asset’s vulnerability in the event of a storm. The FMP should encompass all areas of the asset but with emphasis on the following key areas.
ROOF – EXTERNAL & INTERNAL
• Improve the connections of lightweight roofs to purlins, purlins to rafters and rafters to walls (e.g. hurricane straps)
• Check for missing shingles, signs of rust – galvanize/permaclad roofs, water stains, termites & rot
• Check perforations and seam integrity on membrane covered roofs
• Remove debris from roof drains/gutters
WINDOWS AND EXTERNAL DOORS
• Increase the connections of door and window frames to walls
• Install hurricane shutters
• Add bolts to external doors
• Ensure doors and windows are sealed and operational
• Check for wood rot/termites, rusting (metal), broken or fractured glass
DRAINAGE & GROUNDS
• Examine property for trees, overhanging power lines and buildings, and potential flying objects
• Be aware of your deductible for hurricane (Catastrophe) coverage – 2% of sum insured
• Loss of profit coverage
Resilience and Adaptation Measures
The long-term resilience and adaptation measures for hurricane resistant infrastructure should consider new building features as well as the retrofitting of existing buildings.