Expert: Infrastructure must be "safe to fail" in changing conditions

03/20/2013 | Daily Climate, The

To adapt to a changing environment, structures must be designed to be flexible and adaptive, according to civil engineer Paul Kirshen of the University of New Hampshire. They also should be "safe to fail" rather than "fail-safe," because that is more efficient and less expensive, Kirshen says. Kirshen suggests systems such as "modular seawalls that can be raised as needed; prefabricated highway bridges that can be elevated as peak flows beneath them rise; and floating intake systems at water treatment plants, designed to rise and fall as reservoir levels change."

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