Resilient Design Is a Big Load of Crap
April 1, 2016
When I first heard about resilient design, I thought, “Now here’s something I can get behind.” I can’t go into a building anymore without noticing about a hundred different vulnerabilities, so I was glad to hear people were finally talking about this stuff.
But then I started reading their standards and proposals, and it was the biggest pile of baloney I ever saw. Pages and pages about “coastal zones” and “microgrids with islanding capability” and nothing about how not to get your ass blown off by freedom-hating sons of bitches who waltz right in through the energy-saving front doors.
Have you ever been to a resilient design conference? I have, and I wouldn’t trust these guys to survive a church picnic, much less a full-scale assault from heavily armed Yugoslavian rebels. While these resiliency “experts” are arguing about the maximum acceptable relative humidity during an extended power failure, I’m wondering how they plan to keep nerve gas out of the ductwork and liquid anthrax out of the soap dispensers.
I mean, I get where they’re coming from—I’m all for the whole “ounce of prevention” thing. But their ounce of prevention is about sewer backflow preventers, while mine is about monitoring the loading dock for innocuous-looking cargo vans packed full of C-4.
And don’t get me started on “passive survivability”… what a joke! You know what I call passive survivors? Hostages.
To be fair, there’s a lot to be said for waiting out a siege, which is basically what these guys are talking about, but you can’t live for two weeks without power if you’re already dead. I think we can work together here, though. Let the NPR crowd figure out the sewer stuff, and I’ll provide the real survival advice.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I’d want if I was trapped in a building with an elite team of ex-KGB, so I can tell you what a resilient design standard with some cojones would look like. Here’s the bare minimum of what you’d need:
- A blast-proof dumbwaiter, where you can just chuck a suitcase explosive instead of calling in the bomb squad. It should be big enough that you could shove a tranqed 200-pound suicide bomber into it, vest and all.
- First aid stations on every corner of every floor, plus one on top of all the elevator cars. I’m thinking the kind of kits they send to Iraq, with skin staplers, antivenom, that powder for stopping up gunshot wounds, etc. Oh, and Bactine. Lots of Bactine.
- Bulletproof ducts and ceiling panels. If I had a nickel for every time someone shot at me while I was crawling through a duct, I’d have a whole lotta nickels. Do they make those DuctSox things out of Kevlar?
- Some kind of, I dunno, bat signal on the roof you can use to alert the police. With cell phones nowadays everyone assumes they’ll be able to call for help, but I know a guy in Chinatown who can jam all the phones in a two-block radius, and then you’re just on the roof making smoke signals. Does anyone still use semaphore? I gotta learn that.
Anyway, I’m asking the resilient design leaders out there to put down your quiche for a minute and listen up. Everyone from my ex-wife to my ex-boss will tell you I’m an a**hole, but we’re all on the same team and I definitely know my sh*t. Together we can put together a resilient standard that doesn’t have security holes you could drive an armored truck through.
Did I mention Bactine? Oh, and a winch. You can never be too prepared.
For more information:
McClane Resiliency Consulting