Inspection as Resilience

The effects of climate change are having an increasingly significant impact on buildings and infrastructure. Rapid inspection is the answer to stem this impact.

Projections estimate that the penetrating effects of climate change will corrode reinforced concrete structures in the Northeast United States so much that by 2055 corrosion will reduce rebar cover thickness below code recommendations (Lacasse 2020). Climate change impacts to temperature, sea level, wind conditions, and solar radiation have an impact on all building materials. 

If Surfside serves as any lesson, it is that the longer out built environment puts off inspection, the longer we allow our infrastructure to deteriorate beyond the reasonable cost of repair. Inspection is resilience. 

More frequent, more thorough inspection (made easier with advances in technology such as drones and AI) results in reduced deferred maintenance. Surfside Building Official James McGuinness even has a catchphrase, “Don’t Wait — Accelerate.” 

Inspection regimes such as the 40-year (and now 30-year) Miami Dade County recertification program incentivize ownership to defer maintenance to keep assessments low and property values high. However, the silent menace of deferred maintenance will continue to accumulate the more any building waits. 

Inspection also is critical to the best practice of baselining. Establishing a baseline and measuring against it (in all aspects of resilience, building condition and even sustainability) will allow for measurement of deterioration rates and acceleration. Point-in-time condition assessments can help identify certain types of red flag conditions. Comparison to a baseline delivers even more insight into rates of change over time. 

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