The Road to Resilience | U.S. Green Building Council
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The Road to Resilience

GBCI: 0920014889

This learning pathway provides you with the resources to assist you in incorporating more resilient practices into the design, construction, and operation of your project, and identify opportunities to leverage LEED and GBCI systems such as SITES and PEER to increase resilience.

Published on: November 02, 2017



To further advance your own knowledge on resilience in the built environment, consider these on-demand educational courses on Education @USGBC

Resilient Systems

  • Resilient Water Systems examines how investing in resilient water systems in urban areas can benefit the local economy and face the challenges of climate change and water shortages.
  • The Future of Resilient Urban Transit Systems explains how having a resilient transportation system is essential to a city’s overall well-being, livability, and development, and also explores how the U.S. can learn from other countries in how to improve transit options.

Resilient Buildings

  • Resilience for Business Sake explores how some businesses are incorporating resilience tactics into their planning and decision-making strategies, including some specific examples from such approaches in practice.
  • Designing Resilient Building Envelopes examines how modern wall and roof systems can be important factors in achieving resilience in buildings, and the strategies that exist to incorporate resilience into these designs.
  • Climate impact and building resilience strategies discusses the anticipated effects of climate variability on building energy use, and how different building models take these effects into account to support increased resilience.

Resilient Communities

For additional on-demand educational opportunities, visit USGBC Education and search “resilience.”

Several sessions at Greenbuild 2017 in Boston featured resilient practices and how they are incorporated into the built environment. The entire conference proceedings are available for purchase. Here is a sampling of sessions on resilience to watch!

Design with Climate: A resilient neighborhood for Cambridge

  • Tuesday, November 7, 10:15am-11:45am (part of the Community & Affordable Housing Summit)
  • The panel will discuss models and work currently in progress by the City of Cambridge to upgrade its infrastructure to integrate heat control and water control for storm water. Discussion will also include assessment and planning for resilience based on climate projections.

Charrette: Resiliency, Equity, and Water Management at Chelsea Creek

  • Tuesday, November 7, 1:15pm-3:30pm (part of the Community & Affordable Housing Summit)
  • This charrette will focus on the City of Boston’s and the City of Revere’s plans to implement major resilience efforts, and attendees will collectively analyze and discuss these opportunities using the SITES framework.

Climate Ready DC: Creating a City-Wide Resilience Plan

  • Wednesday, November 8, 8:30am-9:30am
  • This session will explore how Washington, DC determined the most relevant climate risks to the city, how those risks impacted the city’s infrastructure, resources, and residents, and what the city could do to improve its preparedness for changes in temperature, precipitation, and coastal evolution.

Beach Green North: 1st Mid-Rise PHIUS + Multifamily Project

  • Thursday November 9, 1:00pm-2:00pm
  • Panel will discuss the Beach Green North development, a 101-unit energy efficient affordable housing project in Queens, NY that is also one of the largest passive house multi-family buildings in the country. Focus will be on how the building design was intended to bring resilient development to the area following Hurricane Sandy.

Creating Disaster Resilient Housing in East Boston

  • Thursday, November 9, 3:00pm-4:00pm
  • This facilitated, live discussion will center on the City of Boston’s Zoning Code for “Green Buildings and Climate Change Preparedness and Resiliency Policy” and how it helps to ensure that the city’s buildings contribute to the sustainability of their communities. The session will also study how a Gerding Edlen residential development in East Boston is “built to last” rather than “built to code.”

Resilient Affordable Housing for a Changing Climate

  • Thursday, November 9, 3:00-4:00pm
  • The New York City Housing Authority will discuss its long-term resilience goals at this session, and participants will learn how the Baruch Houses development in Manhattan is aiming to bring resilience to lower-income residents on the coast.

Preparing for the Storm, Minimizing Risk Through Resiliency

  • Friday, November 10, 8:00-9:00pm
  • This session will discuss tools to assist building owners, architects, and designers to identify risks to existing buildings related to changing climate conditions, and will identify strategies to improve resilience – including occupant awareness and behavioral changes and engineering retrofits.

Climate-Ready Cities: Planning for Long-Term Preparedness

  • Friday, November 10, 9:30am-10:30am
  • This panel hosts experts from cities that are coordinating land-use and climate-protection planning following superstorms, as well as experts who are leading proactive climate and land-use planning efforts in cities at risk from significant climate-related hazards.

Rapid Resilience Assessments for Multifamily Buildings

  • Friday, November 10, 9:30-10:30am
  • This session will explore how a team in NYC developed the nation’s first web-based rapid resiliency assessment protocol to assess multifamily buildings for their vulnerability to weather hazards and develop resilience solutions.

Tour: Therapeutic Green: Helping People Heal

  • Saturday, November 11, 1:00pm-5:00pm
  • This tour, which includes the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Mass. General Hospital Yawkey Cancer Center, examines the ways the health care industry addresses the benefits of green roofs, therapeutic landscapes, and resilient strategies.

For more Greenbuild sessions on resilience, go to the Sessions page and search “resilience.”


LEED supports resilience in project design, construction, and operation.

LEED credits related to climate resilience include those that reward strategies to adapt to changing conditions. The LEED Climate Resilience Screening Tool for LEED v4 Projects offers framework to help identify climate-related effects on projects, and to determine effective strategies for enhanced resilience.

LEED also explicitly promotes resilient practices by means of its prerequisites and credits. Learn about how credits in LEED v4 New Construction specifically helps contribute to project resilience, as well as to the resilience of nearby areas. For example:
Site assessment (possible 1 point)

  • Project can earn credit by assessing site conditions before design to evaluate sustainable options and inform related decisions about site design.

Rainwater management (possible 3 points)

  • Project may qualify for credit by replicating the natural hydrology and water balance of the site, based on historical conditions and undeveloped ecosystems in the region in order to reduce runoff volume and improve the water quality.

Heat island reduction (possible 2 points)

  • Project can earn credit by implementing measures to reduce heat island effect of project, either through the roof (high-reflectance roofing materials) or non-roof features (use plants to provide shade over paved areas, use an open-grid pavement system, etc.), or by placing a minimum of 75% of parking spaces under cover.

Sensitive land protection (possible 1 point)

  • Project can achieve credit by avoiding the development of environmentally sensitive lands and by reducing the environmental impact from the location of a building on a site, by either locating the development footprint on previously developed land or does not meet criteria for sensitive land (such as floodplains, habitats, water bodies, wetlands, or prime or unique farmland)

Surrounding density and diverse uses (possible 5 points)

  • Project can earn credit by developing in areas with existing infrastructure in order to conserve land and protect farmland and wildlife habitat, and by promoting walkability and transportation efficiency. Ensuring the protection of surrounding areas, a project can also maintain or increase the area’s resistance to the negative effects of development.

Building life-cycle impact reduction (possible 5 points)

  • Project may achieve credit by demonstrating reduced environmental effects during initial project decision-making by reusing existing building resources or by demonstrating a reduction in materials use through life-cycle assessment.

Optimize energy performance (possible 18 points)

  • Project can qualify for credit upon achieving increased levels of energy performance beyond the prerequisite standard in order to reduce environmental and economic harms associated with excessive energy use. This positively impacts the resilience of a project when such credit is utilized by including on-site renewable energy systems, insulating the project’s water system, or installing high efficacy egress lighting, which lasts for a longer period of time in the event of a power failure.

Renewable energy production (possible 3 points)

  • Project can earn credits based on the percentage of ownership or percentage of use of a renewable energy system to offset energy costs, and to ensure resilience upon a distribution to the power grid.
    Innovation (possible 5 points)

    • Project can earn all five innovation points, a project team must achieve at least one pilot credit, at least one innovation credit, and no more than two exemplary performance credits.

    Visit the LEED Credit Library to see all prerequisites and credits, and see how LEED drives resilient practices in the built environment.


SITES has the ability to transform land development and use under the administration of GBCI. Like LEED, pursuing SITES certification and using the rating system also ensures that projects meet high standards and keeps all parties accountable. The SITES rating system takes sustainability outside and into our landscapes, open spaces, parks, and natural resources.

Core goals of SITES are:

  • Create regenerative systems and foster resiliency
  • Transform the market through design, development, and maintenance practices
  • Ensure future resource supply and mitigate climate change
  • Enhance human well-being and strengthen community

Specifically, the goal to create regenerative systems and foster resiliency helps to ensure such systems are healthy and functioning, and by creating such systems projects can foster resiliency. When this goal is achieved via SITES, projects have greater capability to withstand potential disturbances and protect the surrounding communities.

By developing land sustainability, projects not only become more resilient – they also become more cost-effective. SITES aligns land development and management with innovative sustainable design—defining what a sustainable site is and ultimately, elevating the value of landscapes in the built environment.

There are many documented benefits for using the green Infrastructure strategies outlined in SITES. For example:

An eleven-year nationwide study of 450 communities showed that protecting undeveloped land within floodplains significantly reduces property damage caused by flooding events. This saved, on average, $200,000 per year in property damage caused by floods.

Another critical reason for using SITES is its inherent value in promoting resilience. With the increasing amount of extreme weather events from flooding to wildfires, it is essential we design for resilience by working with nature. This means protecting and restoring land that already provides essential functions like floodplains and managing land so we can reduce risk. SITES helps projects prepare their homes, businesses, and communities so that they can resist and avoid damage as much as possible and be able to recover quickly.

Landscapes that design for resilience through green infrastructure are able to avoid damage from extreme weather events, restore affected areas to their original state, mitigate pollution, protect grey infrastructure, and positively impact public health.


Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal, or PEER, is a market-focused rating and certification system for electric power systems including microgrids. PEER is emerging to be a powerful tool to increase the breadth and speed of positive change in the power industry. PEER allows electricity leaders, professionals, and operators to define key performance metrics, benchmark their project to industry standards, and verify measureable outcomes The result is a comprehensive set of criteria which can be explored in depth and used to justify investment.
PEER outlines a comprehensive approach to reliability and resiliency that includes risk and threat identification, prevention, then mitigation and recovery. Within this category, performance is measured primarily through advanced metering and a variety of interruption metrics.
The credits in the PEER Reliability and Resiliency credit category address:

  • Safety and emergency response.
  • Advanced meters and power interruption metrics that allow operators to track and trend performance over time and help inform future improvements. This includes multiple metrics for sustained and momentary interruptions.
  • Capabilities for reliability and resiliency such as damage and exposure prevention, auto restoration, distribution redundancy, islanding and power surety and resiliency for critical and essential services.
  • Power quality measurement and improvement.
  • Identification and mitigation of risks and threats to project infrastructure such as traffic, animal intrusion, wear and aging, terrorism or vandalism and severe weather.

Learn more:

The RELi resilience rating system is emerging as the new leadership benchmark for resilient buildings and neighborhoods. RELi focuses on resilience – including recovery – by means of requiring assessment and planning for acute hazards, preparedness to mitigate against them, and designing and constructing for passive survivability.
More on RELi coming soon!


  1. Learn about what makes a project resilient.
  2. Find out how USGBC's rating systems and certifications give projects a blueprint to achieve greater resilience.
  3. Discover resilience strategies that have worked for LEED projects.
  4. Explore how USGBC is pursuing new ways to help cities promote resilience
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Created by

U.S. Green Building Council
Washington, DC
United States

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