November 20, 2019 by Jason Contant
If your client is a commercial real estate building owner or manager in Canada, there are some major retrofits they can take to improve their flood resilience.
While many of the measures – such as elevating and flood-proofing critical equipment, isolating electrical circuits and electrical panel upgrades – may be cost-prohibitive to implement post-construction, they may be warranted for critical sites or during major building retrofits, says a recent report from the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (ICCA). The report, Ahead of the Storm: Developing Flood-Resilience Guidance for Canada’s Commercial Real Estate, outlines 20 measures that can be implemented to enhance flood resilience of existing office towers, thereby reducing the potential for property damage, business interruptions and loss of life.
The measures are broken down into three categories: plans and procedures, equipment & supplies, and major retrofits. Under the major retrofits category, the measures include:
Commercial real estate owners and managers, as well as their tenants, are increasingly exposed to impacts of flooding, such as a higher potential for property damage, business disruptions and loss of life. For example, following the 2013 floods in Alberta, between 150,000 to 180,000 people could not access office buildings in downtown Calgary for about two weeks. This resulted in 5.1 million lost work hours, equivalent to half a billion dollars in GDP loss to the province, ICCA said in a press release.
Besides retrofitting, some other measures include:
The measures outlined in the report are deemed broadly applicable to multi-unit residential towers and other commercial and institutional buildings, ICCA said, based on national consultation with commercial real estate owners, managers, institutional investors, asset management consultants, insurance industry representatives and others. As such, they should be integrated into risk assessment checklists and acquisition and investment questionnaires used by property managers, owners and institutional investors.
As well, since the National Building Code of Canada is being revised to incorporate climate change impacts, some measures (such as water sensors that prevent elevators from proceeding to flood-inundated levels) should be prioritized for inclusion in code revisions, ICCA recommended.