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Passive Habitability

Strategies that improve a housing facility’s ability to maintain habitable conditions in the event of extended power loss or in the event of hazardous conditions related to natural hazards.




This chapter introduces the concept of “passive habitability,” or how building components and ways of operating them can help households survive during an extended outage of municipal energy, water or gas systems. Passive survivability is a holistic concept: a building’s structure, energy system, water system and immediate surroundings all work together so that people can live “off the grid.” Some techniques of passive survivability are useful for new construction, such as shaping a house in relation to the sun and prevailing breezes in order to keep the interior temperature comfortable with little or no power. Other methods of managing your current home on an everyday basis, such as optimizing air flow and natural light, can reduce your dependence on electricity for cooling and lighting. This is especially important as the number of hot nights on the island rises, increasing the need for 24-hour cooling.

This chapter explains the principles of what makes a home heat up (“thermal heat transfer”), and how manage sunlight and air currents to keep it as comfortable as possible with minimal use of electricity. Incorporating passive survivability strategies into the way you live now will reduce your energy bill and protect residents in hazardous conditions, like extreme heat or long power outages.

Staying cool, safe air, a pest-free environment and nutritious food are essential to good health. Ways to reduce common health hazards and increase food security are also addressed in this chapter.


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