A Survivalist’s Guide to Catastrophe
by Amanda Everett
Late Summer and Autumn 2017 have been insanely active months for hurricanes and tropical storms. Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico have all borne the brunt of the destructive impacts of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Thousands of homeowners have lost money, property, and livelihoods.
With natural disasters occurring more often and more regularly, it’s become clear that humans and the buildings we live in are quite vulnerable. It’s so important that we learn from every disaster and resolve to design and construct buildings that are more resilient than ever.
That said, investments in resilience, like building a LEED-certified home, have upfront costs that are sometimes significant. However, there is value in these investments. Money can be saved by reducing the need to rebuild after disaster. Additionally, putting your family out of harm’s way has value! A business case can be made for being fully prepared for the next disaster, not if but when it occurs.
There exists a large community of survivalists, aka preppers. People involved in this movement actively prepare for emergencies of every type. Their goal is to become self-sufficient and to survive natural or man-made events that have the potential to claim many lives. “Prepping” involves stockpiling food and supplies, learning self-defense techniques, and building structures that will withstand catastrophe. One of the survivalist’s principal goals is to be prepared to live self-sufficiently for days, weeks, or even months should catastrophe strike.
Some survivalists know that one of the best ways to survive and thrive is living in a tiny house, especially one that is energy-efficient, health-promoting, and LEED-certified! Not only are LEED-certified homes designed to be energy efficient, they are also built for resilience, from design to operation. They can be constructed to withstand storm surges, flooding, and wind—in other words, “built to last, instead of built to code”.
Here are some other ways that living in a LEED-certified tiny house makes sense from a survivalist’s standpoint:
- It’s a self-sufficient lifestyle. Living tiny forces you to part with unnecessary baggage. However, creative ways to make room for stockpiling necessities include use of vertical space for storage, as well as corners, under stairs, under furniture, behind bookshelves, and on top of cabinets.
- Because of its size, living completely off-grid is possible. This means independence from city utilities. If power and water are unavailable, a LEED tiny house survivalist will be able to generate her own electricity, enabling her to survive and thrive.
- In addition, back-up power is inexpensive with a battery back-up system, which can be powered using solar energy.
- With rain barrels, a survivalist will have plenty of water! LEED homes that are EPA WaterSense certified need significantly less water than conventional homes. They are 20% more efficient, saving money and the need for more water.
- It’s inexpensive to add extra insulation to a tiny house, so that even less energy (=less money) will be required to heat and cool it.
- Money can also be saved on insurance: Insurers know that LEED-certified homes are more resilient and many of them are willing to give significant discounts to the owners of such homes.
- With all the money saved on expensive mortgages, insurance, electricity, and permitting, a survivalist will have more freedom. He will need to work less, so he’ll have more time to build his survival skills, which every prepper knows are even more important than stockpiling canned beans!
- And most importantly, when disaster strikes, a tiny house offers mobility. With some advance planning, survivalists can easily evacuate an area with their home long before a hurricane makes landfall—with no need to find a hotel.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a survivalist, it makes sense to be prepared for natural disasters. Living in a tiny house makes great sense even for those of us with more optimistic outlooks.