3 Tips For Architects and Climate Change Liability Risk Reduction

Flooded town by Pok Rie

We’ve all known about climate change since the 1970s.

If architects continue to ‘design-as-usual’ and do not consider future climate change risks associated with a project, could it put them in legal jeopardy?

We’re already seeing the dramatic impacts of climate change. This year alone, we’ve seen record heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes. These events aren’t just happening in one part of the globe; they’re occurring across the entire planet.

Recent climate science reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) state that we can expect, within the following decades, extreme weather events to increase in frequency and severity.

Here are three things to consider that could limit an architect or architectural firm’s exposure to climate change-related risks:

  1. Understand physical risks to projects both now and in the future from climate change. Each project should know projected climate change implications for the project’s life at a particular site.
  2. If you or your firm do not have the skill set to project future climate scenarios for a particular site, partner with experts who understand climate change risks and can project future temperatures, rainfall amounts, sea level rise, and potential for increased storm events.
  3. To avoid potential legal issues arising from climate change, review your contracts and processes to ensure your clients are aware of their risks. If a client still wishes to undertake construction on a particular site that may be at risk of future flooding or extreme weather events, either document that a risk notice has been issued and the client has agreed to the warnings or walk away from the project.

Architects can no longer continue to design as if they do not know that changes to the climate are coming and may place a project in potential danger during the lifespan of the building. Now is the time to discuss this with your clients and ensure they understand the risks.


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