Superstorm Sandy battered New York City with high winds and an unprecedented 13-foot storm surge, overwhelming hundreds of miles of coastline and extending its impact far inland. Its effects, from which the city is still suffering, include 43 lives lost and $19 billion of damage to New York’s parks, roads, water system, schools and buildings.
At the request of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, on December 19, 2012 Urban Green Council convened the NYC Building Resiliency Task Force in the wake of Sandy. The charge for the Task Force is to:
1. Consider extreme weather events and climate change and their impacts on the full range of buildings in New York City, including residential, commercial, institutional, critical/essential buildings, and one- to three- family homes. Extreme weather events include coastal storms/hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, precipitation-based floods, windstorms and winter storms, as well as resulting infrastructure failures.
2. Address new construction as well as the retrofitting of existing buildings, with realistic and financially feasible timeframes for implementation.
3. Identify measures to increase building resiliency to protect against the effects of a weather event and to facilitate recovery after an event, and recommend which should be required through regulation or implemented through best practices.
4. Include measures that simultaneously advance resiliency and mitigate climate change.
5. Maintain active, pedestrian-friendly streets and retail activity in both residential and commercial areas.
6. Develop a fast-track process to review policy proposals currently under consideration by City agencies and the City Council.
7. Engage with independent efforts by industry groups to provide leadership towards industry consensus on these issues.
8. Coordinate with the NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency.
On February 14, 2013, the Task Force reached an important interim milestone, releasing two guidance documents approved by the Steering Committee:
The Task Force’s work began in December 2012, and will release recommendations by summer 2013, with work taking place in five steps:
- Setting the stage: determining present hazards and likely future hazards due to climate change, defining what level of risk to consider, and gathering policy ideas.
- Considering the options: reviewing lists of policy options and approving them for continued development.
- Developing policies: fleshing out policy options into full-fledged proposals, including template code language and cost/benefit analysis.
- Selecting policies: reviewing full policies and deciding whether and under what circumstances the proposals are applicable to a specific building sector (or new construction vs. existing buildings) as regulation or recommended best practice.
- Producing final recommendations and next steps: releasing a final report.
After the final recommendations are released, Urban Green Council will continue to work to assist the city in adopting Building Resiliency Task Force provisions. Since some of the recommendations will be best practices, Urban Green Council will also develop educational materials for the real estate and design communities.
MEMBERSHIP & STRUCTURE
The Task Force is comprised of over 215 experts including real estate owners, property managers, architects, engineers, contractors, utility representatives, subject matter specialists, city officials, code consultants, cost estimators and attorneys. The complete Task Force member list is here.
The Task Force will develop recommendations through Working Groups, organized around building systems, which will then be reviewed by Committees organized by building sector (commercial, residential, and critical). Broadly speaking, Working Groups will determine what could be done to improve building resiliency, and Committees will consider what should be done in each building type. Click here to learn more about the structure of the Task Force.