Getting started - what do you need to consider
As a result of climate-related and other emergencies that are becoming more common, many bodies corporate, especially those in apartment buildings with a high proportion of owner/occupiers, are thinking about developing a resilience plan for the building.
Typically, the basic objectives are to keep the building secure, maintain essential services and generally support residents and keep them safe. To have systems in place that are beyond the capacity of each owner and only the body corporate is able to install and manage.
Others want to make their contribution to climate-related problems by considering installing wind or solar electricity generation on the roof, but in the short term, at least, the primary considerations are likely to be related to security, potable water supply, backup electricity and communications.
These are some areas where your planning can start.
Security. The objective is to ensure the building remains secure in any significant event. When the street lights are out, and security alarms are silent, criminal elements roam the streets. The main front door to the foyer and the garage roller doors needs to remain secure but allow residents to come and go. The door controller will have a battery backup, but this is likely to only last around 24 hours. The solution will be to arrange for a manual lock on the door. What form this lock will take is dependent on the type of door, but the body corporate's door service contractor will be able to give advice. The other consideration would be installing manual operation on the garage doors so they can be opened in an electricity blackout and perhaps creating a secure pedestrian door in the back wall when it is a long and perhaps hazardous walk around the building to the front door.
Potable water supply. If the mains water supply was turned off for several days and residents could not leave the district, or perhaps even the building, a backup water supply would be important. One solution would be a small storage tank on the roof so a gravity feed would be available on the ground floor. The body corporate could carry a small selection of buckets in storage for carrying water to units for general use and flushing toilets.
Backup electricity. A backup generator would be valuable for residents to charge their phones, laptops and rechargeable lamps and torches and perhaps boil small quantities of water. You can expect the lift won't be available, and the battery-operated emergency fire exit lights will likely have flat batteries after about an hour, so torches will be required to light the corridors and stairs. A backup generator could be installed but it would most likely need to be located where the exhaust can be discharged safely.
Communications. The minimum would be for residents to be able to charge mobile phones, but the body corporate might consider investing in a satellite phone for common use because regular cellular service might not be available.
This article is intended to raise the issue and start a conversation to determine your owners' interest in preparing for an emergency. After that, the first step might be to appoint a sub-committee to investigate the risks and options to mitigate them and then report back to the owners. Any major investments could be added to your LTMP as part of future updates.
We will post more articles on resistance as we get a better understanding and have something valuable to offer. I anyone has a strong interest or experience in this topic, we welcome your feedback. Especially if we can pass it on.
Last edited 28 April 2023 by John Bradley.
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The Plan Heaven team.
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