DR Horton Lake Arrowhead -storm resilient communities

Resilient MPCs are better prepared for weather challenges

If you don’t like the weather in Atlanta today, wait and see what tomorrow brings! Atlanta weather often has mood swings, and some of them can be quite violent, causing storms and flooding. However, master-planned communities in Atlanta often include elements designed to be more storm resilient to withstand the weather while protecting the safety and well-being of residents. Here are some of the considerations master-planned community developers and planners take into account.

Site Selection and Land Use Planning

When choosing the site for a master-planned community, developers consider factors such as elevation, soil conditions, flood risk and natural features like rivers or wetlands. They must also consider zoning regulations, environmental impact and natural habitats. Often, after considering these factors, developers determine that the land is not suitable for development. 

Developers mitigate the impact of extreme weather by avoiding flood-prone areas and preserving natural buffers. The Lake Arrowhead master-planned community near Atlanta in Waleska, Georgia, is a great example of how environmental integrity can be preserved during development. The developer worked closely with environmental specialists to create a plan sensitive to local ecology and wildlife.

Construction Standards and Green Building Design

Master-planned community developers must adhere to strict building codes and construction standards to ensure the resilience of homes and commercial structures. Depending on the location and design requirements, designs may include reinforced roofing materials, impact-resistant windows and elevated foundations that mitigate flood risk. Many master-planned communities incorporate green building practices, including the use of durable building materials that resist damage. Energy-efficient design and renewable-energy technology like solar panels and geothermal heating systems further enhance resilience by reducing dependence on centralized energy grids that may be disrupted by a storm.

Storm Resilient Infrastructure

Developers often invest in storm resilient infrastructure including reinforced buildings to withstand strong winds, underground utilities to minimize the risk of damage from high winds or falling trees, and backup power systems to keep essential services going when the weather is at its worst.

The water infrastructure for master-planned communities must also be robust enough to provide residents with safe drinking water and sanitation during natural disasters. Decentralized water infrastructure provides alternative sources of water supply that reduce weather-related strains on water utilities and can more readily adapt to changing conditions.

  • Diverse water sources. In addition to accessing local groundwater, decentralized systems often harvest rainwater and recycle greywater (i.e., domestic wastewater excluding wastewater from toilets). By diversifying water sources, communities reduce reliance on utility systems that may be vulnerable to disruptions during extreme weather events such as floods, droughts or hurricanes.
  • Localized treatment and distribution. Decentralized water infrastructure typically involves smaller-scale treatment facilities and distribution networks that are relatively close to the point of use. This localized approach makes the system less vulnerable to extreme weather and easier to repair and maintain.
  • Scalability. Decentralized systems are often modular and scalable, which permits incremental expansion or other modification as demand changes or environmental conditions change. This flexibility is particularly valuable in regions prone to extreme weather, where water needs may fluctuate unpredictably and traditional centralized infrastructure may be less adaptable.
  • Lower consumption of energy and resources. Decentralized water infrastructure can be designed to conserve resources and improve energy efficiency. Methods include low-energy treatment technology, passive design and systems that facilitate the reuse of water. By minimizing energy and water consumption, decentralized systems can help communities become more resilient to disruptions in energy supply or water availability during extreme weather events.

Smart Technology

Smart technology provides real-time monitoring that serves as an early warning system of leaks and drops in water pressure. With the help of smart meters and IoT-enabled devices, operators remotely monitor patterns of water consumption in real-time and learn how demand can be better managed and water better conserved. During periods of drought or other water scarcity exacerbated by bad weather, operators use smart technology to communicate with users, adjust prices and deploy water-saving technologies to reduce stress on the system. Smart technology also allows operators to monitor and control water systems remotely, which is particularly beneficial during a natural disaster. 

Stormwater Management and Natural Buffer Zones

Atlanta’s heavy rainfall and occasional storms can cause flooding and erosion. To make communities more storm resilient while also reducing the strain on drainage systems and mitigating other effects, master-planned communities integrate robust stormwater management systems. These include retention ponds, bioswales and permeable paving.

Master-planned communities located in a lakeside or riverside setting, such as Lake Arrowhead and Heron Bay, typically incorporate green spaces, parks, and natural buffer zones to absorb excess water, reduce the risk of flooding, enhance resilience and well as enhance quality of life for residents. These green areas also contribute to biodiversity, improve air quality, and provide recreational opportunities.

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