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….And I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow this house down…

2008 October 23

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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We are fast approaching the end of hurricane season 2008. With the exception of hurricane Ike, the US territories and mainland have been largely spared the ravages of storms past. However, hurricane season got me to thinking, how can we develop construction materials that are sustainable while, at the same time, they will withstand hurricane force winds and rains of the likes of Ike, Katrina, Georges, and Andrew, to name a few?

I think the Agency has made great strides in supporting technological advances in green building, enhancing energy and water efficiency. However, I wonder how we can take those green benefits to areas that are more susceptible to nature’s onslaught during hurricane season?

For example, in Jeffrey’s blog from Hawaii, he noted how little air conditioning was used in many of the homes. However, the Hawaiian Islands are not in the paths of the storms that come from Africa to the Americas like the Caribbean Islands. We’ve seen Brenda’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint in Puerto Rico, but I still haven’t seen any green substitute for good old concrete when it comes to withstanding hurricane force winds.

So, I would like to use the Web to start a greenversation. I want to consult with experts in this area. Are there green materials stronger than hay and sticks yet greener than bricks? Let’s find materials that will not allow the bad hurricane wolves to blow our houses down. Looking forward to your comments.

¿Resistiría la embestida?

Sobre la autor: Lina M. F. Younes ha trabajado en la EPA desde el 2002 y está a cargo del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Comunicaciones Multilingües. Como periodista, dirigió la oficina en Washington de dos periódicos puertorriqueños y ha laborado en varias agencias gubernamentales.

Nos estamos acercando rápidamente al final de la temporada de huracanes del 2008. Salvo el huracán Ike, los territorios y continente estadounidenses se libraron de los azotes de tormentas pasadas. Sin embargo, durante esta temporada de huracanes me he puesto a pensar sobre cómo podemos desarrollar materiales de construcción que sean sostenibles y que a la misma vez puedan resistir el impacto de vientos huracanados y lluvias torrenciales como los Ike, Katrina, Georges, y Andrew, del mundo?

Pienso que la Agencia ha logrado grandes avances al apoyar tecnologías en edificios verdes, la eficiencia energética y la conservación de agua. Sin embargo, me pregunto si podemos llevar esos beneficios ambientalistas a las áreas que sean más susceptibles a los ataques de la naturaleza durante la temporada de huracanes?

Por ejemplo, en el blog de Jeffrey desde Hawai, destacó cómo limitaban el uso del aire acondicionado en muchos hogares. Sin embargo, las Islas Hawaianas no se encuentran en el paso de las tormentas que salen de África camino a las Américas como están las islas del Caribe. Vimos los esfuerzos de Brenda por reducir la huella de carbono en Puerto Rico, pero todavía no he visto un buen sustituto verde al consabido concreto cuando se trata de resistir un vendaval huracanado.

Por lo tanto, quisiera usar esta página para comenzar una conversación verde, Greenversation. Quisiera consultar con expertos en esta área. Como en el cuento de los tres cerditos, ¿acaso hay materiales verdes que sean más fuertes que la paja y la leña, pero más verdes que los ladrillos? Encontremos materiales que no permitan que los malos lobos huracanados derriben nuestros hogares. Me encantaría leer sus comentarios.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. permalink
    October 24, 2008

    Getting something to with stand a hurricane would be an achievement , but there are articles that show some houses made from recycling goods, like tyres and plastic , things that are not bio degradable, maybe some one can use this info to develop a material that would withstand the weather and the wrath of mother nature

  2. Lina-EPA permalink*
    October 24, 2008

    Very good points. In the tropics, concrete will withstand the high winds, but it also absorbs the heat. It makes houses seem like ovens in those late afternoons of high temperatures. I’m not sure the energy efficient windows will withstand the winds or flying debris either. We’re making vast improvements in the construction materials for temperate zones, but don’t think we have the same innovative minds focusing their attention in the tropics or those US areas within the path of hurricanes (Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Louisiana, etc.)

  3. Cindy permalink
    October 27, 2008

    Are there green materials stronger than hay and sticks yet greener than bricks? Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) are stronger than the conventional framing as well as affording energy efficiency, better indoor air quality and have better environmental responsibility benefits.

  4. Lina-EPA permalink*
    October 27, 2008

    Interesting, but do SIP withstand hurricane winds categories 3, 4, or 5?

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