• Gunn Meyerhoff Shay

Sustainability & Recovery



When architects, environmentalists and planners talk about sustainability they usually mean the ability to enjoy the future without pillaging it for today.  When we designed our home in Savannah we planned it to be as energy and resource conservative as possible for this reason, so we could sustain our lifestyle as our earnings abated. With sturdy rain screen construction, extra insulation, daylight in almost every room, highly efficient air conditioning and solar power we have been able to reduce our electric bills to a small fraction of more conventional homes. Also, by growing some of our own food, and landscaping with native and edible plants, we have the joy of eating fresh. This, in addition to living in an urban area close to work with plenty of places to walk, makes for a healthy lifestyle.


Today as we shelter from the remnants of Hurricane Irma, it occurs to us that with the likelihood of more violent storms in the future, sustainability also means survival and recovery too. These more frequently dangerous storms will mean power outages, water shortages, and periods of time without easy access to food. Having a home with lots of daylight, solar power and a battery, rain barrels and plenty of fresh vegetables makes a big difference at these difficult times. In fact, we have been comfortable here at home while most of our neighbors wisely chose to evacuate because they could not survive as well.


Fortunately we were spared the devastation of those in St. John and Key West. If we were in the path of a massive hurricane we would have left Savannah for sure. But direct hits are much rarer than severe storms now, and they happen with much less warning due to the warmer ocean temperatures caused by climate change. Coastal cities, already challenged by sea level rise, now face pop-up storms with massive rainfall and surging tides.


The salvation of humanity in an era of global warming will be our ability to adapt, especially in coastal areas where most people now live. It turns out that our home, as an engine of reduced entropy, contributes little to the problems of a carbon-based economy, and without sacrificing comfort. That said, our home’s greatest value in terms of sustainability might be its capacity to adapt to dangerous weather and recover from it afterwards. It may even be the key to our survival.


If you want to know more about how to design and build this way, just let us know. We can show you how.




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©2018 Gunn Meyerhoff Shay Architects, PC 

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