NEW YORK, NY - The reality of climate change will forever change community building, with planning and development decisions increasingly based on strengthening community resilience through what is built, and where and how it is built, according to a new report released today by the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
Leading up to the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, ULI has prepared After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-Term Resilience and Adaptability, which offers guidance on community building in a way that responds to inevitable climate change and sea level rise, and helps preserve the environment, boost economic prosperity, and foster a high quality of life.
ULI, a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use, has a long history of advising communities on repositioning after disasters. At the request of three ULI district councils -- ULI New York (city), ULI Northern New Jersey, and ULI Philadelphia, which serve ULI members in those market areas -- ULI in July 2013 convened a panel of the nation's foremost authorities on real estate and urban planning to evaluate local and federal plans for strengthening community resiliency post- Sandy, and offer guidance on rebuilding efforts. Candid insights and observations from these experts formed the basis for After Sandy, a comprehensive, practical set of 23 recommendations focused on four areas -- land use and development; infrastructure, technology and capacity; finance, investment and insurance; and leadership and governance.
The report's overriding message: The increased frequency of severe weather events, as well as rising sea levels, are compelling the real estate industry to address climate change by working with the public sector to implement adaptive measures that better protect both the built and natural environment.
After Sandy was discussed today by panel representatives at events hosted in New York City by ULI New York and in Trenton by ULI Northern New Jersey and ULI Philadelphia. Panel co-chairs Joseph Azrack, managing partner at Apollo Global Real Estate in New York City; John McIlwain, ULI senior resident fellow/J. Ronald Terwilliger Chair for Housing; and David Ricci, partner at The Flynn Company in Philadelphia led the discussions.
"For the real estate industry, climate change has become a global issue with dramatic local ramifications. As a result, we are seeing different approaches to development in the twenty-first century," Azrack said. "Rebuilding, as well as new building, is increasingly being viewed as an opportunity to reduce disaster-related risk and increase community resilience, as well as enhance livability and protect natural resources."
McIlwain pointed out that while the report was prepared in response to areas affected by Sandy, it is intended to be a resource for vulnerable communities worldwide. "This is about more than rebuilding. It's about how regions and communities set priorities, how they balance the need to invest in areas that create economic vitality with the need to support particularly vulnerable areas without resources. Through our recommendations, we are seeking to help regions and localities make informed decisions in this regard," he said.
"The implications of climate change and rising sea levels are issues that are here to stay," Ricci noted. "How well we as a society adapt depends on our ability to accurately calculate its impact on the built and natural environments, and to plan, develop, finance, and insure more resilient communities."