12 Lessons From Sandy

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When Hurricane Sandy cut across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, it left death and destruction from Puerto Rico to Canada.

Lessons learned from the storm carry implications for coastal cities everywhere.

AECOM professionals share insights from a dozen of the many perspectives needed to build urban resiliency.

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12 Lessons From Sandy

  1. 1. 12 LESSONS FROM SANDY 1 Image credit: istockphoto
  2. 2. What Did We Learn from Sandy? When Hurricane Sandy cut across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, it left death and destruction from Puerto Rico to Canada. Lessons learned from the storm carry implications for coastal cities everywhere. AECOM professionals share insights from a dozen of the many perspectives needed to build urban resiliency. 2 Image credit: istockphoto
  3. 3. LESSON 1: TURN PLANS INTO ACTION 3 Image credit: istockphoto
  4. 4. Sandy was an eye opener. In a very real way, the storm demonstrated the devastating effects that coastal storms will have on our shoreline in the future. As a result, what were discussions on climate change and adaptation have turned into plans for action. Andrew Cairns, US Northeast Ports and Marine Lead at AECOM 4 Image credit: istockphoto
  5. 5. Sandy was an eye opener. In a very real way, the storm demonstrated the devastating effects that coastal storms will have on our shoreline in the future. As a result, what were discussions on climate change and adaptation have turned into plans for action. Action: Develop coastal protection plans that account for sea level rise and increased storm intensity. Andrew Cairns, US Northeast Ports and Marine Lead at AECOM 5 Image credit: istockphoto
  6. 6. LESSON 2: THERE’S A NEW REALITY 6 Image credit: istockphoto
  7. 7. Sandy points to new realities we’re likely to face every day. More frequent storms lead to standing water, wet conditions, mold growth and disease; changes in the zones of flora and fauna bring new stressors —the progression of climate change and increased climate variability will have far reaching consequences on daily life, which requires public participation in climate change planning. Diane Dale, director of AECOM sustainable planning, has guided a cross-jurisdictional effort to develop the Cleaner Greener Long Island Regional Sustainability Plan. 7 Image credit: istockphoto
  8. 8. Sandy points to new realities we’re likely to face every day. More frequent storms lead to standing water, wet conditions, mold growth and disease; changes in the zones of flora and fauna bring new stressors —the progression of climate change and increased climate variability will have far reaching consequences on daily life, which requires public participation in climate change planning. Action: Adopt a comprehensive, integrated planning approach that engages the public. Diane Dale, director of AECOM sustainable planning, has guided a cross-jurisdictional effort to develop the Cleaner Greener Long Island Regional Sustainability Plan. 8 Image credit: istockphoto
  9. 9. LESSON 3: ACCOUNT FOR HUMAN BEHAVIOR 9 Image credit: istockphoto
  10. 10. With Sandy, people knew that there were few structural protection measures so most followed authorities’ evacuation orders. Design standards for structural solutions must take into account human behavior — people expect flood protection measures to protect them—and the fact is we cannot design and build flood protection that has no chance of being exceeded. Scott Edelman, an AECOM senior vice president, worked on the first comprehensive climate study for FEMA, and recently spoke at the UN on flood mitigation in developing nations. 10 Image credit: istockphoto
  11. 11. With Sandy, people knew that there were few structural protection measures so most followed authorities’ evacuation orders. Design standards for structural solutions must take into account human behavior — people expect flood protection measures to protect them—and the fact is we cannot design and build flood protection that has no chance of being exceeded. Action: Establish regional evacuation protocols and emergency procedures — and make sure people know what they are. Scott Edelman, an AECOM senior vice president, worked on the first comprehensive climate study for FEMA, and recently spoke at the UN on flood mitigation in developing nations. 11 Image credit: istockphoto
  12. 12. LESSON 4: WORK WITH NATURE 12 Image credit: istockphoto
  13. 13. We cannot defeat nature through engineering… …but have to work with nature’s built-in resiliency to protect people and assets in highly vulnerable coastal areas. We must think creatively about constructed natural systems that enhance flood management, protect against storm surge, adapt to rising sea levels, improve air quality, and reduce urban heat islands—both for mitigation and adaptation. Jeff Goldman, principal with AECOM, worked on a FEMA program to integrate recovery planning with disaster response. 13 Image credit: istockphoto
  14. 14. We cannot defeat nature through engineering… …but have to work with nature’s built-in resiliency to protect people and assets in highly vulnerable coastal areas. We must think creatively about constructed natural systems that enhance flood management, protect against storm surge, adapt to rising sea levels, improve air quality, and reduce urban heat islands—both for mitigation and adaptation. Action: Maximize green and multi-purpose infrastructure options to enhance resiliency. Jeff Goldman, principal with AECOM, worked on a FEMA program to integrate recovery planning with disaster response. 14 Image credit: istockphoto
  15. 15. LESSON 5: PROTECT THE CORE 15 Image credit: istockphoto
  16. 16. Vital infrastructure took a severe blow with Sandy. Cities need to ensure that critical elements of the electric, water, sewer and transportation grids are strengthened so people can get basic services, and return to normal life as quickly as possible. Over the coming decades, sustainable design and building codes will be phased in, but the focus over the next few years is to make the core strong and resilient enough to handle blows better. Kevin Corbett, a vice president with AECOM in New York City, has worked closely with state, city and government agencies across a range of interrelated capacities. 16 Image credit: istockphoto
  17. 17. Vital infrastructure took a severe blow with Sandy. Cities need to ensure that critical elements of the electric, water, sewer and transportation grids are strengthened so people can get basic services, and return to normal life as quickly as possible. Over the coming decades, sustainable design and building codes will be phased in, but the focus over the next few years is to make the core strong and resilient enough to handle blows better. Action: Conduct vulnerability assessment for essential services and infrastructure, including transportation, energy, water and wastewater. Kevin Corbett, a vice president with AECOM in New York City, has worked closely with state, city and government agencies across a range of interrelated capacities. 17 Image credit: istockphoto
  18. 18. LESSON 6: PREPARE TO RESPOND 18 Image credit: istockphoto
  19. 19. Nature has a way of overruling our plans. As much as we strengthen protections for major storms, nature will act in ways we can’t always predict. That heightens the need for pre-emergency preparation to secure assets and infrastructure for system redundancy and a coordinated post-emergency response involving key transportation operators and government agencies. Atma Sookram, AECOM associate vice president of transportation planning, has worked extensively with New York City agencies. 19 Image credit: istockphoto
  20. 20. Nature has a way of overruling our plans. As much as we strengthen protections for major storms, nature will act in ways we can’t always predict. That heightens the need for pre-emergency preparation to secure assets and infrastructure for system redundancy and a coordinated post-emergency response involving key transportation operators and government agencies. Action: Coordinate interagency regional transportation plans with multiple modes and redundancy. Atma Sookram, AECOM associate vice president of transportation planning, has worked extensively with New York City agencies. 20 Image credit: istockphoto
  21. 21. LESSON 7: WORK TOGETHER 21 Image credit: istockphoto
  22. 22. Climate change impacts don’t follow jurisdictional boundaries. Sandy reinforced the reality that cooperation and integrated thinking across municipalities and regional agencies is essential in planning for adaptation and resiliency strategies. Claire Bonham-Carter, AECOM director of sustainable development, is working on climate focused vulnerability and risk assessments for multiple agencies. 22 Image credit: istockphoto
  23. 23. Climate change impacts don’t follow jurisdictional boundaries. Sandy reinforced the reality that cooperation and integrated thinking across municipalities and regional agencies is essential in planning for adaptation and resiliency strategies. Action: Initiate regional, cross-jurisdictional planning mechanisms and processes. Claire Bonham-Carter, AECOM director of sustainable development, is working on climate focused vulnerability and risk assessments for multiple agencies. 23 Image credit: istockphoto
  24. 24. LESSON 8: KEEP THE POWER ON 24 Image credit: istockphoto
  25. 25. Continuity of power can mean the difference between a storm and a disaster. High-voltage transmission and distribution systems need storm hardening measures— elevating equipment, building storm walls, development of mitigation procedures—to prevent and minimize outages. Steve Martocello, PE, AECOM sr. vice president of energy and power, is guiding the Northeast Grid Reliability Program which includes storm hardening of selected PSE&G critical facilities. 25 Image credit: istockphoto
  26. 26. Continuity of power can mean the difference between a storm and a disaster. High-voltage transmission and distribution systems need storm hardening measures— elevating equipment, building storm walls, development of mitigation procedures—to prevent and minimize outages. Action: Identify vulnerable gas and electric assets and implement protections. Steve Martocello, PE, AECOM sr. vice president of energy and power, is guiding the Northeast Grid Reliability Program which includes storm hardening of selected PSE&G critical facilities. 26 Image credit: istockphoto
  27. 27. LESSON 9: DE-RISK THE COASTLINE 27 Image credit: istockphoto
  28. 28. As coastal zones around the world become more urbanized, people and assets are increasingly at risk. Disasters happen. It makes sense to de-risk the coastline. Quantitative risk assessment offers potential to improve development decisionmaking, avoid undue risk to infrastructure and prevent adverse impacts on the natural environment. Dr. Mark Gibbs, AECOM director of infrastructure and environmental risk management, is an internationally known authority on coastal development. 28 Image credit: istockphoto
  29. 29. As coastal zones around the world become more urbanized, people and assets are increasingly at risk. Disasters happen. It makes sense to de-risk the coastline. Quantitative risk assessment offers potential to improve development decisionmaking, avoid undue risk to infrastructure and prevent adverse impacts on the natural environment. Action: Update coastal planning and development guidelines to minimize long-term risk. Dr. Mark Gibbs, AECOM director of infrastructure and environmental risk management, is an internationally known authority on coastal development. 29 Image credit: istockphoto
  30. 30. LESSON 10: SANITATION SAVES LIVES 30 Image credit: istockphoto
  31. 31. Evaluate the vulnerability of wastewater treatment assets. These assets, which are typically located adjacent to receiving waters, play important roles protecting human health and the environment and need to be adapted to and protected against changes in weather patterns. Gabriel Giles, AECOM project manager, has guided award-winning wastewater treatment plant projects. 31 Image credit: istockphoto
  32. 32. Evaluate the vulnerability of wastewater treatment assets. These assets, which are typically located adjacent to receiving waters, play important roles protecting human health and the environment and need to be adapted to and protected against changes in weather patterns. Action: Develop and implement plans to ensure protection of essential water distribution systems, fresh water and sanitation functions. Gabriel Giles, AECOM project manager, has guided award-winning wastewater treatment plant projects. 32 Image credit: istockphoto
  33. 33. LESSON 11: CAPITAL FLEES UNDUE RISK 33 Image credit: istockphoto
  34. 34. Regions that identify and address risks will remain attractive to investors. Regions that ignore impacts of climate change face capital flight, as long-term investments are jeopardized. Insurers already consider the consequences of climate change. Those costs will be passed onto property owners, ultimately changing where people invest. 34 Image credit: istockphoto Alexander Quinn, director of AECOM sustainable economics, has guided investment and development projects for cities and private clients throughout North America.
  35. 35. Regions that identify and address risks will remain attractive to investors. Regions that ignore impacts of climate change face capital flight, as long-term investments are jeopardized. Insurers already consider the consequences of climate change. Those costs will be passed onto property owners, ultimately changing where people invest. Action: Develop climate action plans to mitigate risk and protect investment. 35 Image credit: istockphoto Alexander Quinn, director of AECOM sustainable economics, has guided investment and development projects for cities and private clients throughout North America.
  36. 36. LESSON 12: ADOPT A NEW APPROACH 36 Image credit: istockphoto
  37. 37. It’s highly unlikely that there will be separate funding available for the adequate disaster adaptation of our grey and green infrastructure. Our challenge is to incorporate adaptation into every operational and capital decision, into the planning, design and construction of every project, rather than treat it as separate from normal practice. 37 Image credit: istockphoto Gary Lawrence, chief sustainability officer for AECOM, is a frequent contributor to policy discussions at the UN and in major conferences worldwide.
  38. 38. It’s highly unlikely that there will be separate funding available for the adequate disaster adaptation of our grey and green infrastructure. Action: Our challenge is to incorporate adaptation into every operational and capital decision, into the planning, design and construction of every project, rather than treat it as separate from normal practice. Add resilience and adaptation measures as standard protocol for all projects. 38 Image credit: istockphoto Gary Lawrence, chief sustainability officer for AECOM, is a frequent contributor to policy discussions at the UN and in major conferences worldwide.
  39. 39. More information and related work Disaster Solutions FEMA climate change report Carbon Disclosure Project—2013 global cities report “Ten ideas that can change the world” Baltimore climate action plan Assessing the climate change risk to SF Bay Garnaut climate change review for Australia “After Sandy: A ULI report” (panelist Joe Brown, AECOM chief innovation officer) Connected Cities blog: Michael Nolan on sea level rise Environmental Leader: Gary Lawrence on “Finding the Balance between ‘Green’ and ‘Gray’” 39 Image credit: istockphoto
  40. 40. 12 LESSONS FROM SANDY 40 Image credit: istockphoto

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