Resilient Buildings and Distributed Energy: A Grassroots Community Response to the Climate Emergency

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sustainability, 2022, 14, (6), pp. 3186
Issue Date:
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The severity and incidence of extreme weather events are increasing with climate change. In particular, wildfires are becoming more frequent, more intense, and longer lasting than before. Fuelled by long periods of dryness and high temperatures, the Australian wildfires of 2019/2020 were record breaking in terms of destruction and chaos. Rural communities were severely affected by power cuts disabling access to essential services. Following the wildfires, a concept for energy resilient public buildings (“Emergency Distributed Energy System”) emerged as a grassroots community idea from the wildfire-affected area of Gippsland, southeast Australia. A combination of desktop and empirical research explored international examples of energy resilience and climate mitigation, the local services and technologies that are needed in Gippsland, and the legal and regulatory challenges and enablers in Australia. The findings were informed by case studies of responses to natural disasters that included California and Greece (wildfires), New Zealand (earthquake), and India (cyclone). The results determined that community resilience can be increased by offering a more reliable electricity supply that would support greater social, political, and economic structures. The deployment of resilient energy systems should be driven by political will, economic incentives and working with communities to support a concerted shift towards low-emissions and distributed energy technologies.
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