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For the past 20 years, a Texas nonprofit called Build San Antonio Green has encouraged builders to make homes and office buildings as energy and water efficient as possible.

But executive director Anita Ledbetter says that as the region gets hotter and drier and more prone to extreme storms, builders must prepare.

“We must push beyond energy efficiency to energy security,” she says. “We have to move beyond water conservation to water security. We have to design our buildings in a way that are more resilient towards the extreme weather.”

So Ledbetter’s organization is expanding its existing green building certification program. It has started offering a “climate ready” certification to buildings that are designed to better withstand climate impacts.

These buildings will be constructed with wind- and heat-resistant materials. Their mechanical equipment will be elevated to stay dry during a flood. They’ll have water purification systems that can provide safe drinking water in an emergency, and solar panels and battery systems that can keep the lights on even when the grid goes down.

“We’re trying to design buildings for the future that are going to help people be more resilient,” Ledbetter says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media