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Climate Resilience Guidelines for B.C. Health Facility Planning and Design

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Extreme weather events, warming temperatures, shifting precipitation patterns and other climate hazards already pose challenges to health facilities and services across B.C. Scientific evidence makes it clear that climate-related disruptions and disasters will increase in frequency, intensity and unpredictability in the coming years, even as we commit to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward a low-carbon economy. As industry codes, standards and norms do not yet account adequately for climate variability and change, climate risks and impacts on hospitals, long-term care homes and other types of health facilities are important to consider, as are cascading impacts on patients, health workers and communities.

With a systematic approach to unpacking and tackling our challenges, and in early planning and design, health system stakeholders can reduce climate risks and embed resilience at the most effective and cost-efficient inflection points in a facility’s 60-100 year lifespan. Combined with a low-carbon approach from the outset, capital projects can demonstrate that synergies and innovations with climate resilience are key to climate-smart and cost-efficient pathways forward.

The Climate Resilience Guidelines for B.C. Health Facility Planning and Design (v1.1) is a living document that is intended to both capture current best practices for immediate application, and enable continuous improvements through an iterative and collaborative process. While version 1.1 focuses primarily on major capital projects that require business plan or business case approval, it includes a “quick start” climate hazard exposure screen tool for minor capital projects.

The guidelines are the culmination of more than a year of multi-sector collaboration to develop practice-based guidance for B.C. health authorities: an industry Task Force to develop resilient design strategies with low-carbon, seismic and pandemic synergies; a Health Authority Working Group to validate proposed approaches; and, an interdisciplinary Advisory Group to contextualize development. Versions 1.0 and 1.1 were prepared by the Energy and Environmental Sustainability’s Climate Risk & Resilience program and Integral Group, with funding from the health authorities and the BC Housing Research Centre.