Post sandy-report full -- 4-30-13

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“Post-Sandy Initiative” is an American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter, special multi-disciplinary, inter-agency collaboration, which purpose is to address the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in New York City. The purpose of this study is to frame issues for further development, and ultimately make revisions to the NYC Zoning Resolution and Building Code, to accommodate and promote suitable redevelopment of housing, neighborhoods, and infrastructure.

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Post sandy-report full -- 4-30-13

  1. 1. 1234567891011121314151617ft.ft.0Pre-Sandy Base Flood ElevationSea level datum NAVD 88Projected Year 2080 Flood Height with Sea Level RiseProjected Year 2050 Flood Height with Sea Level RisePost-Sandy Advisory Base Flood Elevationwith Residential Freeboard2012 Sandy Surge LevelPost-Sandy Advisory Base Flood ElevationINITIATIVEPOSTSANDYNominal Ground LevelBuilding Better,Building Smarter:Opportunitiesfor Designand DevelopmentMay 2013810.8"0167"145"1413128
  2. 2. 167" Projected Year 2080 Flood Heightwith Sea Level Rise145" Projected Year 2050 Flood Heightwith Sea Level Rise“Climate Change Adaptation in New York City:Building a Risk Management Response:New York City Panel on Climate Change 2010,”Annals of the New York Academy of SciencesVolume 1196, 41-62. New York, May 2010.14 Post-Sandy Advisory Base FloodElevation with Residential FreeboardMayor Bloomberg Announces New Measuresto Allow Home and Property Owners Rebuild-ing after Hurricane Sandy to Meet UpdatedFlood Standards, January 31 2013http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c-701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&catID=1194&doc_name=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyc.gov%2Fhtml%2Fom%2Fhtml%2F2013a%2Fpr044-13.html&cc=unused1978&rc=1194&ndi=113 2012 Sandy Surge Level“NYC Storm Surge Map,” Center for theAdvanced Research of Spatial Information,Hunter College, City University of NewYork, 2012. http://www.carsilab.org/sandy12 Post-Sandy Advisory Base Flood Elevation(see source for 14)810.8" Pre-Sandy Base Flood ElevationFederal Emergency Management Agency.“Advisory Base Flood Elevation Information,Region 2 Coastal Analysis and Mapping.”2013. http://www.region2coastal.com/sandy/table8 Nominal Ground LevelFederal Emergency Management Agency.Ground level at example site (111 Beach 222ndStreet, Breezy Point, Queens), “Advisory BaseFlood Elevation Information, Region 2 CoastalAnalysis and Mapping.” 2013.http://www.region2coastal.com/sandy/table0 Sea level datum NAVD 88Wikipedia. “North American Vertical Datumof 1988,” last modified April 10, 2013.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Ameri-can_Vertical_Datum of_1988Cover Image credit: NASA/NOAA
  3. 3. 1234567891011121314151617ft.ft.0Pre-Sandy Base Flood ElevationNominal Ground LevelSea level datum NAVD 88Projected Year 2080 Flood Height with Sea Level RiseProjected Year 2050 Flood Height with Sea Level RisePost-Sandy Advisory Base Flood Elevationwith Residential Freeboard2012 Sandy Surge LevelPost-Sandy Advisory Base Flood ElevationPOSTSANDYBuilding Better,Building Smarter:Opportunitiesfor Designand DevelopmentMay 2013INITIATIVE810.8"0167"145"1413128
  4. 4. In response to Superstorm Sandy, theAmerican Institute of Architects New York(AIANY) has spearheaded a collaborativeinitiative investigating issues and outliningoptions and opportunities to address theshort-, intermediate-, and long-termimpacts of the storm and the escalatingeffects of climate change on New YorkCity. The impetus for this work grew in partfrom an informal partnership that haddeveloped between the AIANY Design forRisk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR)and the NYC Department of City Planning(DCP). Starting well in advance of Hurri-cane Sandy, these two groups had collabo-rated on multidisciplinary design explora-tions related to climate change. In addition,the DfRR Committee and AIANY undertooka number of other pre- and post-Sandyinitiatives, including training and organiza-tion of FEMA neighborhood assessmentprograms and coordination of initiativeswith the NYC Office of Emergency Man-agement (OEM), the Dean’s Roundtable,related area design schools, and relevantAIA National programs. After the devasta-tion of the storm, this relationship expand-ed to include a larger set of collaborators,the Post-Sandy Initiative, which preparedthis summary.This Initiative includes relevant committeemembers from AIANY and volunteerrepresentatives from other AIA chaptersand sister organizations who share thecommitment to recovery and belief thatplanning and design are a crucial compo-nent of rational decision-making. Numer-ous other agencies, panels, and organiza-tions have been working in parallel withthis Initiative, including those convened bythe Mayor’s Office, the City Council, theGovernor’s Office, the Municipal ArtSociety, the Regional Plan Association,Pratt Institute, and many others. We intendour work to complement and support theseefforts, especially those with ties to themost affected populations.The Initiative has fouroverarching objectives:First, to prepare a multifaceted reportilluminating options and opportunitiesbased on the best information availablein a short amount of time. The report isintended to provide policymakers withadditional tools as we forge ahead inresponse to Sandy.Second, to mount an exhibition of thisopen-ended information so that it can beshared, discussed, and debated by designprofessionals, stakeholders, and recoveryleaders.Third, to initiate public symposiaand ongoing programs in the fourareas covered in the report, providinga framework for continued focus onSandy recovery.Fourth, to undertake continuing advocacywith relevant public, private, and institu-tional stakeholders, expanding the re-sponse to Sandy into efforts for a moreresilient future.In the wake of Sandy, it is evident that weneed to learn from other cities and regionsthat have suffered similar weather events.These precedents serve as best practiceson which we can rely as we begin to buildback better and smarter. We supportresearch into resilient measures ofbuilding, which can secure our regionalfuture and become, in turn, best practicesthat can be helpful to other areas at risk.As delineated in the following pages,participants have defined a variety ofshort-, medium-, and long-term responsesin four key areas—Transportation &Infrastructure, Housing, Critical & Com-mercial Buildings, and Waterfront—thatwill feed into these larger public, private,and institutional efforts. Following therelease of this report, we will continuethese fruitful collaborations and advocatefor ensuring the health, safety, wellbeing,and quality of life of our magnificent cityand region. Building Better. BuildingSmarter.PrefaceCollaborating Organizations:American Council of EngineeringCompanies (ACEC New York)American Society of LandscapeArchitects New York Chapter(ASLA-NY)Citizens Housing & Planning Council(CHPC)New York State Associationfor Affordable Housing (NYSAFAH)American Planning Association NewYork Metro Chapter (APA-NYM)Regional Plan Association (RPA)Structural Engineers Associationof New York (SEAoNY)For more information on AIANY’sDesign for Risk and ReconstructionCommittee (DfRR) please refer towww.designforrisk.com4
  5. 5. Post-Sandy InitiativeExecutive SummaryINTRODUCTIONTRANSPORTATION& INFRASTRUCTUREHOUSINGCRITICAL& COMMERCIALBUILDINGSWATERFRONTADAPTATION,ADVOCACY& NEXT STEPSList of Volunteers128643182632405Table of Contents
  6. 6. Superstorm Sandy revealed that we havecreated a defenseless built environment:1. Land-use patterns encourage fragiledwelling units and critical facilities inthe most vulnerable locations.2. Transportation and utility systems failin the face of extreme weather events.3. Stormwater management and develop-ment policies now in effect actuallyincrease the impact of runoff.4. Existing buildings are barriers tosustainability, squandering powerand producing greenhouse gases.The overarching long-term objective isresilience, which can best be achieved bymodifying buildings, transportation andinfrastructure networks, and land-usepatterns.XX This will require consensus on stan-dards and where they apply—whatconstitutes “harm’s way,” based onupdated predictions of flood zones,storm surges, and sea-level rise, andhow these assumptions may shift orincrease in coming years.XX It will also take careful analysis of manypossible strategies—examining relativecosts and benefits in the context of likelyuseful lifespans.XX There is no universal solution. Designapproaches should be site-specific andrespond to local programmatic needs.A great deal of work has been publishedand is underway on responding immedi-ately after disasters. As architects,planners, and designers, our focus hasbeen, instead, in an area where we canmake the most meaningful contribution:design approaches to new constructionand rehabilitation to help limit the effectsof future storms on our built environment,and processes to help us coordinate ourefforts to provide critical services, includ-ing regional transportation, immediatelyafter a major storm.Building back better and smarter—moder-ating past mistakes through carefulplanning, becoming more energy indepen-dent, and requiring sustainable design andconstruction practices—will help reversethe vulnerability we have inherited fromcenturies of misguided development.before the fact and regional coordina-tion during extreme events, includingemergency wayfinding strategies toinform residents about alternativebackup plans for transportation, power,fuel, and locations for assistance.XX Recognize that infrastructure failures inNew York City can have catastrophicinternational impacts. The fundingrequired to strengthen our infrastructureshould be leveraged through all partiesthat benefit from preventing expandingeconomic disorder.HOUSINGMulti-family buildings fared much betterthan one- and two-family dwellings. Yetlocal and national regulations related tohousing in flood zones do not address theconditions of a dense urban place like NewYork City.Superstorm Sandy revealed the need fornew strategies to address evacuatingresidents who will be displaced in futuredisasters, and their security and comfort ifsheltering in place is necessary. Theexisting housing stock must be retrofittedto become more resilient. Standards fornew housing must ensure that it can besafe, accessible, and attractive.Key concepts and findingsHousing displaced people in extremeevents requires knowledge of availableunits, a centralized intake process, and aset of tools including appropriate waivers,qualifying processes, model lease agree-ments, and allocation of subsidies.Non-profit housing providers need supportwith post-disaster training to addressresidents’ needs, especially in flood-proneneighborhoods.Gaps in current floodproofing guidelinesand regulations—at both local and federallevels—must take into account the charac-ter of dense urban environments.Multi-unit housing stock in flood zones,even where damaged, remains largelysound. With strategic modifications, theuseful life of most of these buildings canbe extended well into the future.Broader planning implications should beaddressed, such as whether exceptions toallow multi-family housing in downzonedcoastal areas could increase communityresiliency.Opportunities and next stepsFEMA and National Flood InsuranceProgram literature is largely focused onone- and two-family housing. It is ourconclusion that a FEMA multi-familydesign guide is very much needed.ExecutiveSummaryTRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURERegional coordination and planning forredundancy can ensure that our transpor-tation and infrastructure networks willoperate before, during, and after severeweather events.These aging systems were not built towithstand today’s rising sea levels andsevere storms. Identifying their vulnerabili-ties and planning for their reinforcement isan urgent priority, demanding interagencycollaboration, public education andcommitment, and solutions that contributeto the design quality of the City and region.Key concepts and findingsPlanning for Redundancy: Transportationand infrastructure networks are interde-pendent. Multiple and alternative powersources can keep them functioning duringsevere weather events. Robust, multiple-system communication plans can alert thepublic to evolving conditions.Planning for Resiliency: Reinforcingvulnerable structures and repositioningcritical equipment can protect vitalinfrastructure systems. Sensitively-de-signed elements can also serve as urbanamenities. Replacement of those systemsthat were heavily damaged by SuperstormSandy should maximize long-term sustain-ability.Planning Smart: We have identified casestudies that reveal three distinct strategicapproaches—defensive, adaptive, andpassive. Defensive infrastructure candemand burdensome long-term fundingand management; for each particularsituation, scenario-planning exercises andother research are needed to suggestwhether hard infrastructure (with aconstructed resiliency) or simpler, softersolutions will best protect the community.Adaptive efforts reduce disruption ofnatural ecosystems, and focus on greeninfrastructure approaches. Passivesolutions accept that protecting invest-ments is impractical in a particularsituation, and focus on moving or provid-ing alternative systems. For all strategies,solutions must contribute to the ameliora-tion of service gaps and improved designquality of the public realm.Opportunities and next stepsXX Assess the infrastructure and transpor-tation systems at greatest risk, andidentify strategies for their redundancyand resiliency.XX Educate the public about challengesahead to ensure realistic expectationsand support for required expenditures.XX Improve interagency and interstatecommunications for holistic planning6
  7. 7. Post-Sandy InitiativeZoning regulations should be adjusted, inlight of predicted higher flood levels, torecognize the amount of space needed byrequired ramps, elevators, and lifts inmulti-family buildings, and to provide forthe relaxation of height restrictions inorder to accommodate higher-elevationground floors.In low-income rental buildings andsupportive and senior housing, whereresidents may not be able to individuallyevacuate, safe rooms and expandedprograms should be provided to allowcongregation, roll call, and rescue duringemergency conditions.Multi-family housing should be engineeredwith building systems that protect againstHVAC shutdowns, provide for alternativepower during outages, and ensure a quickreturn to normal.CRITICAL COMMERCIAL BUILDINGSThe challenges of adapting the vastinventory of existing critical buildings towithstand the effects of extreme climateevents are distinct from the relativelyeasier task of designing new structures forresiliency.Critical facilities like hospitals, policestations, and data centers must be able towithstand the effects of a disaster andremain in operation without evacuation.Other buildings in vulnerable locationsmay be evacuated, but should be designedto survive without structural failure.Building owners have a responsibility toprotect occupants, protect structures andcontents from damage, and ensure thatbuildings can operate during and after theevent.Key concepts and findingsOwners of all commercial and institutionalbuildings—existing, in construction, orplanned—should begin now to:XX Conduct vulnerability assessments oftheir buildings in anticipation of thelikely effects of extreme climate events.XX Identify technical standards and tech-nologies that will allow their buildings tosuccessfully withstand these events.XX Update plans to keep buildings opera-tional during disasters and to quicklyrecover functionality afterwards.XX Create implementation plans to put inplace remedial actions indicated by thethree preceding steps.Opportunities and next stepsDisaster-resistant building design strate-gies, technologies, and materials thatalready exist or are being developedelsewhere should be examined andadapted here.We should move toward replacing existingcritical buildings in harm’s way that cannotbe hardened, with exceptions for buildingsof historic or cultural significance.We need regional protective systems thatcan enhance, or eliminate the need for,individual building responses.The challenges that hurricane conditionsand floods pose for buildings, in particularthose in densely populated areas, shouldbe brought to the attention of the manyscientific, governmental, and professionalorganizations currently exploring thepotential impacts of climate change.Dialogue will lead to better simulationmodels of water and wind behavior onbuilt structures, a new national referencecode for building construction, and zoningand planning approaches that bringpatterns of development into line withpresent and emerging knowledge aboutdisaster-prone areas.WATERFRONTThe future of New York as a waterfront citydepends on respecting our changingenvironment and building on the unifyingstrength of our dynamic harbor andwaterways in creative ways.Superstorm Sandy has given us a newperspective on New York City’s diversewaterfront and watershed—comprisingocean, riverine, and estuarine systemswithin a broader context of interactivewater flow. Floods and storm surges arepart of natural cycles, although theirfrequency, intensity, and impact on our cityare increasing. Within this ecologicalcontext, an array of opportunities existsthat can integrate diverse land-uses—pub-lic access, parks, housing, commercialdistricts, and working waterfronts—andaccommodate the climatic events we mustnow anticipate.Key concepts and findingsMore scientific research will help us tounderstand the interactions betweenurban waterfront and human ecologies.We need a dynamic and innovativeapproach to waterfront projects, allowingfor experimentation and novel resiliencystrategies.Interdisciplinary collaborations, organiza-tional structures, and funding mechanismscould promote robust collaborationsamong pure and applied disciplines—link-ing the design community, the scientificresearch community, and the regulatorycommunity.There is always more than one solution.New York City has 520 miles of shoreline,with varying geomorphology, hydrology,land-uses, and habitat types. Planning anddesign of waterfronts should embraceunique, site-specific attributes.For instance, we need to set priorities forcurrent and future funding for the alterna-tives being identified and discussed by theCity’s post-Sandy task force, the SpecialInitiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency(SIRR).There is always more than one solution.New York City has 520 miles of shoreline,with varying geomorphology, hydrology,land-uses, and habitat types. Planning anddesign of waterfronts should embraceunique, site-specific attributes. Forinstance, we need to set priorities forcurrent and future funding for the alterna-tives being identified and discussed by theCity’s post-Sandy task force, the SpecialInitiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency(SIRR), the Department of City Planning’syear-long Urban Waterfront AdaptiveStrategies Study, and NYS 2100 Commis-sion. These include nourishing beachesand expanding dunes, reinserting wet-lands, raising bulkheads, adding tide gatesand revetments, building breakwaters,installing passive and deployable flood-walls, constructing seawalls and surgebarriers, and conceiving of dual-use ormulti-purpose levees.Redundancy and modularity should bebuilt into flood protection and stormwatermanagement systems in densely-populat-ed areas.All members of waterfront communitiesshould be included in the planning andimplementation processes via communityoutreach and communication.Opportunities and next stepsWe need a ground-up, incrementalapproach to waterfront resiliency, partner-ing with local communities to generatesensitively formulated solutions, andarming property owners with a menu ofstrategies. From government we needagility and flexibility in regulations, andfunding that affects the planning anddesign of waterfront solutions in thecontext of a collaborative, problem-solvingapproach.We propose Waterfront Labs to investigatestrategies that could mitigate storm surge,prevent erosion, and soften the impact ofrising tides. Experiments would focus onboth predictable and unpredictable events,and take into account the different naturaltypologies found in the New York Cityregion. The Waterfront Lab will make animportant contribution by bringing NewYork City to the forefront of innovativewaterfront resiliency planning and design.7Executive Summary
  8. 8. The cover of this report graphicallyquantifies Sandy’s impact—and futurepotential implications—in terms ofcomparative feet and inches. Sandy’sregional inundation levels are shownin the adjacent map.As we now understand, many of themost acute impacts of SuperstormSandy resulted from the confluence ofseveral unique circumstances: anoff-shore hurricane that entered theNew Jersey / New York City / LongIsland region at full bore; a fast-risingstorm surge that came and went quickly;one of the highest tides of the yearcombined with a full moon; aNor’Easter, and a disturbance in the jetstream that caused the storm’s turnwest into New Jersey. We need to learnfrom Sandy in order to address otherdifferent but equally threatening factorsthat may emerge from the next storms.For example, Hurricane Irene in 2011caused flooding resulting from intenserainfall, rather than the storm-surge-driven flooding seen during Sandy.Wind damage from Sandy was limitedto the area of first landfall, although treedamage and resulting power outageswere major issues in adjacent inlandareas. Obviously it is difficult to predictthe factors and results associated withany storm.Superstorm Sandy resulted in largenumbers of people losing their homes,livelihoods, and in some instances, theirINTRODUCTIONlives. More than 10% of the City’spopulation (almost 850,000 people)lived in Sandy’s Inundation Zone—over 325,000 dwelling units in 78,000buildings (85% of which were builtbefore 1983 flood-related building codeupgrades, and over 60% of whichsuffered FEMA-inspected damage).The New York City Police and FireDepartments rescued more than 1,700people, with likely many more unre-ported. While the vast majority in theregion did not suffer to the degree asthose in that zone, what did affecteveryone unilaterally was the damageto our citywide systems: transporta-tion and utilities, housing, critical andcommercial buildings, and the water-front. The energy infrastructure wasdamaged along the regional supplychain of fuel terminals, pipelines, andgas stations. Hundreds of thousandswere without power—approximately80,000 residents in more than 400 NewYork City Housing Authority (NYCHA)buildings were affected by loss ofelectricity, heat, or hot water. Thestorm revealed vulnerabilities acrossthe Tri-State Area and focused atten-tion on the question of long-termviability. Since October 2012, numer-ous initiatives are under way at local,regional, and federal levels to deter-mine how to respond to future impactsfrom such storms, which are antici-pated to happen with even greaterfrequency and intensity.8
  9. 9. Post-Sandy InitiativeSuperstorm SandySurge Infiltration MapSource: MOTF Inundation Model Date: April 3, 2013© 2013 ESRI, DeLorme, NAVTEQ9
  10. 10. Sandy’s unexpected power and breadthcreated a need for realistic standards toprotect communities in the way of futurestorms—which may be even morepowerful in terms of wind, rain, andpotential damage. This unprecedentedchallenge, complicated by estimates ofrising sea levels and increasing frequen-cy of events, will define how we plan andregenerate the inundated areas and theregional context.Even as people and buildings sufferedterrible direct impacts, the City andregion as a whole suffered massiveindirect impacts of the storm. Adverseeffects to economic vitality, communica-tions infrastructure, and connectivitynetworks were widespread.The initial step in any disaster isresponse, preserving life and criticalproperty in the midst and immediateaftermath of the event (ideally precededby effective pre-planning for evacuationand staging of needed resources). Thisis followed by recovery, returning to asmuch normalcy as possible, in turnfollowed by organized and deliberaterebuilding. The overarching long-termobjective is resilience—modifyingbuildings and land-use patterns overtime, and infrastructure where significantinvestment prevents physical relocation,and waterfront edges that transitionbetween the shore and upland areas—hardening and/or softening as relevantto mitigate the impact of future events.In order to deal with these challenges,Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s SpecialInitiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency(SIRR) program is engaged in preparingan integrated strategy to address howwe rebuild New York City to be moreresilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy,but with a long-term focus. The City willuse its first allocation of federal Commu-nity Development Block Grant (CDBG)funds to support recovery from Sandyand to build in resilience to the challeng-es of climate change, including programsto build and support housing, businesses,infrastructure, and other city services.This process, undertaken through thecoordination of numerous governmentalagencies and multidisciplinary advisors,relies heavily on community outreach todefine issues and priorities. As planningand design professionals, our intent is tosupport that process through our parallelvolunteer efforts.But as we step back from the immediateshock and imperative response toemergency conditions, we must recog-nize that much of the problem lies in ourown culpability as a client society—theway we have helped over the years tocreate a susceptible built environment:XX Land-use patterns that encouragefragile dwelling units and criticalfacilities in the most vulnerable loca-tions;XX Transportation and utility systems thatfail more and more frequently in theface of natural events;XX Stormwater management and develop-ment policies that increase rather thandecrease the impact of runoff;XX Existing buildings that are barriers tosustainability—and that, in NYC, use94% of electrical production andproduce 75% of greenhouse gasemissions.Overall, sea levels are rising and extremestorm events are becoming morefrequent, both because of natural cyclesand the worsening impact of human-induced climate change. By building backbetter and smarter—moderating our pastpoor decisions through careful planning,becoming more energy-independent,and setting in motion new, sustainabledesign and construction practices—wecan begin to mitigate or reverse theeffects of centuries of misguided devel-opment policies.The Post-Sandy InitiativeThe Post-Sandy Initiative, the collabora-tion that produced this summary report,is structured as the planning and designcommunity’s response to this challenge.Initiated by the American Institute ofArchitects New York (AIANY) in theweeks that followed the storm and incollaboration with a wide range of otherprofessional organizations and con-cerned individuals, it has been supportedby the participation of a variety of local,regional, state, and national publicagency participants. At publication time,still only months after Sandy sweptthrough our region, this report is a slicein time of our efforts as of April 2013—a definition of issues, an analysis ofoptions and opportunities, and theestablishment of a framework for nextsteps. As our community continues toexplore these issues and develop ideasfor building better and building smarter,progress reports will be issued online atwww.postsandyinitiative.orgUnlike many of the areas devastated bycomparable American storms, New YorkCity is a major urban region whosevitality and resiliency depends on acomplex web of interconnected systems.With more than 8 million residents,6 million commuters each day, and 50million annual visitors, New York City isthe largest regional economy in theUnited States, and the second largestcity economy in the world after Tokyo.New York is a cultural capital and hometo hundreds of museums, performingarts venues, and historic sites; and morethan 600,000 students are enrolled at theCity’s 110 higher education institutions, alarger number than the entire populationof Boston.Through the Post-Sandy Initiative’sworking groups, it quickly became clearthat “one size does not fit all”—theimposition of national or other stan-dards, often based on rural, suburban,or small-city situations, may not alwaysbe applicable to our high-density envi-ronment, and falls short in addressingour complex, interconnected social andeconomic culture. A series of comple-mentary initiatives, many based onexperience from outside the UnitedStates, is required to affect meaningfulchange.As part of this Initiative, many profes-sionals have given their time to exploreimportant issues about Sandy and theresponse to date, both in terms ofshorter-term recovery efforts andlonger-term resiliency considerations.It is clear that we can, and need to, dobetter in the face of future extremeweather events. Key areas for furtherdiscussion include:During a major storm event:XX Dealing with governmental/OEM andFEMA evacuation mandates in the faceof concerns such as public housing10Introduction
  11. 11. Post-Sandy Initiativeconstraints, property owner reluctance,and public safety considerations;XX Ensure that evacuees have places to goout of harm’s way, and reliable meansto get there;XX Reinforce and protecting buildingsystems, infrastructure function, andability to provide police and fireprotection.Short-term recovery:XX Assess the damage to property andcommunity;XX Provide equitable public support in theface of varying insurance coverage;XX Justify and balance rapid-recoveryefforts and costs with follow-uprepairs;XX Define the standards for remediation,and resulting costs, in terms ofmedium-and long-term benefits;XX Understand the implications of insur-ance rates based on those standards,and their impact on property owners ofvarious incomes.Medium-term remediation:XX Define workable standards for bothrelatively easier new construction andsignificantly more difficult existingrepair and reconstruction;XX Develop approaches for rebuildingbased on sustainability and resourceconservation;XX Establish clear standards from amongstdiffering expectations on the rate ofclimate change and sea-level risepredictions;XX Deal with social inequity, community,and economic issues of long-termsettlement in areas that are now inharm’s way;XX Create equitable (and appropriatelyfunded) programs for purchase ofdestroyed or damaged homes andtransference into open space.Long-term resilience:XX Analyze long-term infrastructure andwaterfront investments despite a lackof definitive new scientific standardsfor flood zones and sea-level rise;XX Evaluate how to finance premiums fordesign and construction based onshort-term cost but long-term benefitwithout affecting immediate alternativeneeds or choices;XX Advocate planning and design solu-tions that reduce carbon emissionsand our reliance on fossil fuels, as wellas work with anticipated future waterlevels.There are two major determiningfactors in defining resilience:XX Achieve consensus among the respon-sible parties (FEMA, the states, the City,and other municipalities, insurancecompanies) as to standards— whatconstitutes “harm’s way.” This defini-tion will necessarily be based onpredictions of sea-level rise, possiblestorm surges, and recommendedallowances for “freeboard” abovethose flood levels—and how they arepredicted to increase over a series ofbenchmarks throughout the comingcentury and beyond.XX Careful cost-benefit analyses thattake into account funding cycles andthe benefits of funds at the users’ end,present value, and alternative usesof funds.As the planning and design community,we are one voice in these critical issues.But our expertise and perspective areinvaluable components of the solution.Architects, landscape architects, plan-ners, and engineers must be at the tableas policies and standards are developedto mitigate or reduce the risk of cata-strophic damage from the next storm.We must apply our experience to thoseissues that speak to the physical, social,and environmental implications ofpossible decisions. More value andemphasis must be placed on long-rangecomprehensive planning under theinitiative of elected leaders. Systems andresources must be organized so thatshort-term decisions are aligned withlong-term health, safety, and soundinvestment.We framed this Post-Sandy Initiative interms of design implications and applieddesign thinking. A set of working groupsexamined key aspects of the builtenvironment in detail, through collabora-tion, research, workshops, and designcharrettes. We have examined thesetopics in terms of short-, medium-, andlong-term time frames, and at a range ofscales, from individual buildings toneighborhood contexts, the surroundingcity, and the region as a whole.The following chapters summarizeissues, options, and opportunitiesidentified by four of these workinggroups—Transportation Infrastructure,Housing, Critical CommercialBuildings, and Waterfront. The valuablework of a fifth working group—Zoning Codes—has been incorporatedthroughout the text. Each of thesereports is supplemented online byadditional material delving into specificareas of concern and concepts forbuilding better and building smarter atwww.postsandyinitiative.orgThe overarching long-term objective isresilience—modifyingbuildings and land-use patterns over time,infrastructure wheresignificant investmentprevents physicalrelocation, and waterfrontedges that transitionbetween the shore andupland areas —hardening and/orsoftening as relevant tomitigate the impact offuture events.11Introduction
  12. 12. Public transportation entities such as the MetropolitanTransportation Authority (MTA), NJ TRANSIT, the PortAuthority of New York New Jersey (PANYNJ), and Amtrakare all re-examining Sandy’s impacts and developing short-and long-term responses to climate change within thecontext of restricted budgets and smaller workforces.City agencies responsible for infrastructure—sewer, water,and stormwater drainage—are examining failures andplanning for future needs. Power utility providers such asConEdison, LIPA, and PSEG are developing new strategies.Advocacy groups such as the Municipal Art Society (MAS),the Regional Plan Association (RPA), and the Rudin Center forTransportation have served in multiple roles, from educatingthe public through public dialogues and white papers, tolobbying for funding and improved communication amonginfrastructure and transportation providers. It is critical tounderstand all of these ongoing efforts while working acrossdisciplines that cross municipal and state lines.Interagency collaboration and a well-developed communica-tions plan established jointly by various transportation andinfrastructure agencies that serve the City and region canstrengthen the framework for future multi-modal redundancyand resiliency.Regional coordination and planningfor redundancy can ensure that ourtransportation and infrastructurenetworks will operate before, during,and after severe weather events.TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE12
  13. 13. Post-Sandy InitiativeKEY CONCEPTSAND FINDINGSAs noted in Governor Andrew Cuomo’sNYS 2100 Commission report, “Recom-mendations to Improve the Strength andResilience of the Empire State’s Infra-structure” (November 2012), New YorkState’s recent ClimAID projections showthat higher temperatures and sea-levelrise are extremely likely for New YorkState through the end of the century,and that by 2100, experts project sealevels to rise in New York City and LongIsland by as much as six feet undercertain scenarios. Given our agingtransportation and infrastructure, thosestatistics make identifying the weak-nesses in our systems of utmost urgen-cy. The following strategies are ourrecommendations for responding to thenew anticipated norm.Planning for RedundancyPlanned redundancy provides a moreflexible infrastructure. As many of ourtransportation and infrastructurenetworks are interdependent, losingone often causes the loss of others.Working towards providing appropriatebackup power systems along withalternative power sources, such as solar,wind, or geothermal, will make griddependency less critical. Policies thatencourage redundancy would promotethese actions.Developing a robust communicationsnetwork and plan will allow transporta-tion agencies to alert the public aboutstation closings and alternate transpor-tation routes, prior to and immediatelyafter severe storm events.Planning for ResiliencyThere are currently available physicalsolutions that can protect our transpor-tation and infrastructure networksagainst flooding. Sensitively designed,these barriers can also serve as urbanamenities. By reinforcing vulnerablestructures, we can fortify them towithstand these “new normal” events.These actions should be supported bypolicies that address strengtheningexisting structures with ongoing repairprograms, as detailed in Section 3 oncritical and commercial buildings.Placing new electrical equipment aboveanticipated flood levels and replacingdamaged equipment with new equip-ment designed to work in a harshsalt-water environment are examples ofstrategies that could be implemented aspart of an overall plan.As we move from short-term recovery tolong-term planning for redundancy andresiliency, we need to plan smart so wecan build smart.Planning SmartSmart planning in the new ecosysteminvolves looking at transportation andinfrastructure systems in new ways. Itbegins with an intermodal interagencyprocess of regional cooperation, commu-nication, and coordination for standardoperations, regular outages, and extremeweather situations.Once in operation, New York City’s CitiBike program will provide alternativetransportation for some residents. Photo credit: CitiBike / NYC BikeshareTemporary flood barriers were constructedprior to the storm at vulnerable entrances.Photo credit: Flickr / MTA Photos Photostream13Options and Opportunities: Transporation Infrastructure
  14. 14. It includes recognizing the efficiency ofhaving tunnels act as drains for ourcities, and considering the different waysthat systems can function during severestorms, and how that differs from howthey perform during a non-event.Providing uninterrupted services at vitalfacilities such as hospitals, firehouses,and shelters should be prioritized aspart of an overall infrastructure network.Planning smart means examiningexisting and new infrastructure compre-hensively with a clear understanding ofspecific risks that vary based on loca-tion. Building better will mean coordi-nating systems between agenciesserving the same region, and acknowl-edging that often a replacement in-kindis not an adequate solution.To plan smart, we need to enhance ourguidelines and standards for resiliencyand redundancy by integrating thefollowing best practices:New InfrastructureThe Inner Harbor Navigation CanalSurge Barrier in New Orleans (the onlyone like it to date in the United States),London’s Thames Barrier, and the DeltaWorks in the Netherlands are examplesof climate change-responsive infrastruc-ture solutions that are less than 30 yearsold. These structures typically need tobe funded from design through con-struction and maintenance. As anexample, sewage treatment failures inextreme storm events may requirelong-term funding of a hardened systemto mitigate such problems in futurestorms. We recognize that in our region,these new types of infrastructure willneed to be developed and maintained bya new public institution, or added to theresponsibilities of an existing one.Scenario-planning exercises in differentcommunities, similar to what is beingdemonstrated as part of Mayor Bloom-berg’s citywide Special Initiative forRebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), canfurther inform how soft solutions or hardinfrastructure can protect communitiesfrom severe storms like Sandy, and howthey may either detract from or enhancethose communities’ quality of life.Reduce Impact to the EcosystemsNew York City already has one of thelowest carbon footprints per capita inthe country. As we develop theserecommendations, we must continue toreduce this footprint and reinforce ourcity’s approach to sustainability, ensur-ing that our redundancy recommenda-tions reduce negative environmentalimpacts as well. The use of permeablepaving materials and water retentionsystems that reduce the demands onsewer systems are two such viablepossibilities. Another is to encourageless energy-dependent transportationmodes, such as bicycle and pedestriannetworks and technologies, as part ofthe overall regional transportationsystem.It will also be important to look at areasand communities that may have beenunderserved in terms of a broaderadoption of green infrastructure mea-sures, and how that, in fact, may mini-mize flooding in the future.G-Cans Project,Tokyo, JapanOne of the world’slargest undergroundflood-water diversionfacilities was designedto protect Toykofrom flooding duringtyphoon season andheavy rains.14Options and Opportunities: Transporation Infrastructure
  15. 15. Post-Sandy InitiativeUrban Design QualityPart of building for a resilient future isprotecting our communities fromproblems resulting from climate change,and doing so in a way that uses naturalas well as engineered measures toimprove both redundancy and resiliency.Neither measure should, however,exclude maintaining the quality of thebuilt and natural environment. There-fore, it is critical to solve these technicalchallenges in a way that does not losesight of the human condition. Solutionsmust generate positive interventionsfrom architectural and urban designperspectives. We must not forgo thevitality of our built environment, and incases where communities may havebeen underserved aesthetically, addressinfrastructure and transportation needsas an opportunity for both urban andeconomic enhancement.Responses Priorto Catastrophic EventsHaving plans in place for catastrophicevents, and communicating them to thepublic, is a low-cost initiative that paysdividends. Procedures to close transpor-tation systems in order to safeguardtransportation and infrastructurenetworks (including relocating mobileequipment to higher ground, installingtemporary flood barriers, etc.), andrequiring mandatory evacuations ofvulnerable areas must be developed.This would increase safety and securityduring a storm. The MTA and the City ofNew York taught this lesson to millions.A regional process for communicatingstation, road, and line closures to thepublic prior to severe weather events—and providing clear information aboutalternative routes—should be developedand employed, as mentioned above.Responses to CatastrophicEvents After the FactThe recovery after Superstorm Sandywas uneven, and for many residents, notknowing when essential services wouldbe restored was more difficult toaccept than the event itself. Implemen-tation of the strategies summarizedpreviously, in particular the redundantand resilient systems, will help tomitigate future similar challenges.Additionally, local outreach facilitatorsshould be trained to educate communi-ties about their various transportationoptions. Key information points can beestablished in advance so that in theevent of a broad-based Internetshutdown, data on current and plannedoperations are accessible throughoutthe City. Details on alternative trans-portation systems, including bikeroutes and ferries, should be welldistributed. Workforce developmentprograms can help to lessen post-cata-strophic isolation.There remains much that can be done.Our institutions need to treat the“catastrophic” as “expected” andprepare accordingly. Doing so maychange the “catastrophic” to merely“inconvenient.”POLICYCONSIDERATIONSAND REGULATORYIMPLICATIONSTransportation and infrastructure,when compared to other aspects ofthe built environment, are far moredeveloped, controlled, and managedby public agencies. Responsiveprograms will necessarily be filteredthrough government programs andregulatory modifications. This includesagencies such as the Federal Emer-gency Management Agency (FEMA),the Federal Transportation Administra-tion (FTA), the Federal AviationAdministration (FAA), the Environmen-tal Protection Agency (EPA),MODE 1Normal Conditions2 Roadways OpenMODE 2Moderate Storms1 Roadway OpenMODE 3Heavy Storms0 Roadways OpenSMART Tunnel, Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaThe SMART tunnel is six miles long and consistsof two tubes, each carrying two traffic lanes,situated one above the other. The tunnel is used tomanage severe flooding during monsoon season.Its mechanical and electrical equipment can handlesubmersion to a depth of 65 feet during flooding.15Options and Opportunities: Transporation Infrastructure
  16. 16. the Federal Highway Administration(FHWA), and the Federal RailroadAdministration (FRA).To fund the responses to climatechange, sea-level rise, and potentiallycatastrophic natural events, we mustdemand a new paradigm of investment.With federal support in place for aconsiderable amount of repair work,how can we refocus the discussion onlonger-term capital needs? And wherewill the money come from?OPPORTUNITIESAND NEXT STEPSWe must maintain a sense of immediacy.Keeping awareness of these issues frontand center needs to continue and bebrought to the transportation andinfrastructure conversation if we aregoing to evolve these ideas into tangiblenext steps.When it comes to transportation andinfrastructure, the responses will comefrom the public, with advocacy groupshelping to inform decision makers.This starts with education. The publicmust be educated about the challengesahead so that their expectations arerealistically maintained within thecontext of this new reality. Cooperativeefforts need to continue on a regionallevel. This begins with shared knowl-edge, including lessons learned,followed by the development ofcoordinated common standards andguidelines. Therefore, we need toimprove interagency and interstatecommunications so that we are plan-ning holistically and not in geographicvacuums. We must advocate formethods of sharing information, wemust advocate for methods of sharinginformation, especially during a crisis.This should include emergency way-finding strategies to inform residentsabout alternative backup plans fortransportation, power, fuel and loca-tions for assistance.Ultimately it is about risk management.How do we (stakeholders, the public,decision makers, government, andadvocacy groups) navigate through thisThames Barrier, Thames River, London, UKDesigned by Rendel, Palmer and Tritton to prevent flooding from high tides and North Seastorm surges, the Thames Barrier is located downstream from central London. It needs tobe raised (closed) only during high tide; at ebb tide it can be lowered to release the waterthat backs up behind it. Photo credit: Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.comMuseumPark, Rotterdam, The NetherlandsUnderground parking garage designed by Paul deRuiter Architects accommodates 1,150 cars and a10-million-liter water reservoir, when necessary.Photo credit: Pieter Kers16
  17. 17. Post-Sandy Initiativehistorical moment in the Northeast? Ifwe are to continue living and workinghere, we need to recognize all theseissues, and then manage the associatedrisks. Superstorm Sandy forced us torecognize the fragility of our position,with millions of people from New Jerseyto New England affected. Now we haveto manage it. We need to begin toassess the transportation and infrastruc-ture systems that are at greatest risk,and then identify and prioritize strate-gies for redundancy and resiliency inthe near and long term.It is clear that we need to expend theresources that can manage these risks.The challenge will be for the public toaccept these expenditures as part of anew standard, and for the agencies thatare their guardians to strengtheninteragency communications duringsevere climatic events.New York City, as a global city, is linkedinextricably with the rest of the world.That global interdependency means thatminimizing the health and responsive-ness of our transportation and infra-structure networks can result in cata-strophic impacts throughout the world.The funding necessary to manage risksand sustain the continued strength ofthe region should be leveraged throughall parties that benefit from this trulyvital region.STRATEGICAPPROACHESCase studies from around the countryand the world reveal three distinctstrategic approaches: Defensive,Adaptive, and Passive.A defensive approach implies that thesubject is being attacked and must beprotected. A boundary is employedlike a fortress to resist the elements.These defensive approaches offervarying degrees of effectiveness,resiliency, and environmental impact,and require ongoing operations andmaintenance programs.An adaptive approach implies abalance between the need to protectand the acceptance of the overwhelmingforces of nature. We adapt by alteringthe subject to live in symbiosis withthe threat. If we embrace adaptive asco-existence, then solutions will becomemore apparent in adapting to the newnormal.A passive approach implies recognitionthat the forces of climate change have orwill have such a great impact that theyhave won. We accept their overwhelm-ing power completely, and the solutionis to live with and embrace the threat.Sidewalk Gratings, Queens,NY, USAMTA commissioned raisedsidewalk gratings to mitigatelocal flood-waters at existingsubway ventilation structures.Rogers Marvel’s adaptiveapproach serves as a bench,adding a streetscape amenity.Photo credit: David Sundberg/Esto17Options and Opportunities: Transporation Infrastructure
  18. 18. HOUSINGLocal and national regulations relatedto housing in flood zones do not addressthe conditions of a dense urban placelike New York City.The Post-Sandy Housing Working Group’s focus was tolearn what happened during Sandy and why,and to use these lessons to:XX Encourage the development of new strategies to addressthe evacuation and temporary rehousing of those dis-placed by future disasters;XX Make existing housing stock more resilient;XX Ensure that future housing is built in a way that is safe,resilient, and beautiful.An analysis by NYU’s Furman Center for Real Estate andUrban Policy and the NYC Department of City Planningrevealed a few clear patterns about what worked and whatdid not work in residential construction.Buildings built to modern floodproofing standards faredmuch better structurally than older buildings. 84% of thebuildings in the flood zones were built before 1983, whenNew York City incorporated floodproofing requirementsinto the Building Code. 94% of the red-tagged buildings (i.e.,those requiring repair before occupants can re-enter) werebuilt before this date. 98% of the destroyed buildings werebuilt before this date. Retrofitting existing housing stockand rebuilding new housing to higher, more stringentstandards will require changes to the multilayeredregulatory climate currently governing floodproofing issues.Also needed are creative approaches to ensuring that thesechanges result in safer, more resilient, and beautiful buildingsand communities.Multi-family buildings fared much better than one- andtwo-family buildings. 90% of the red-tagged buildingswere one- and two-family buildings, even though they madeup less than 30% of the floor area of all red-tagged buildings.Local and national regulations related to the design andconstruction of housing in flood zones have yet to takeinto account issues related to floodproofing in the country’sdensest urban environments. As building owners havemoved on from immediate post-disaster recovery effortsand take the next steps to make their buildings more resilientin a post-Sandy world, the need for more attention to thefuture floodproofing needs of multifamily buildings hasbecome clear.The work by CHPC, NYSAFAH, and AIANY after Sandyrevealed several issues related to displacement andrebuilding. These include: the need for organizationalstructures for non-profit housing providers to work togetherafter such disasters; the potential for alternate solutions tothe trailers and other temporary housing deployed afterSandy; and the need for protections that allow designprofessionals to play a constructive role in addressingemergency situations (the Good Samaritan Law). CHPC hasrecently employed a full-time Fellow who has establishedZone A New York, Inc., a non-profit organization working onthe ground building capacity and charged with addressingmany of the key priority items outlined by the HousingWorking Group.18
  19. 19. Post-Sandy InitiativeThe Post-Sandy Housing Working Group is apartnership of six professional organizations:American Institute of ArchitectsNew York (AIANY)American Society of LandscapeArchitects New York Chapter (ASLA-NY)American Planning AssociationNew York Metro Chapter (APA-NYM)The New York City Bar Association,Committee on Land-use and ZoningStructural Engineers Associationof New York (SEAoNY)American Council of Engineering Companiesof New York (ACEC New York)These organizations were joined by fourhousing policy organizations:Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC)New York University (NYU), Furman Centerfor Real Estate and Urban PolicyNew York State Association for AffordableHousing (NYSAFAH)Regional Plan Association (RPA)KEY CONCEPTSAND FINDINGSFive months after Sandy, the short termhas already come and gone. The Hous-ing Working Group accordingly focusedon mid- and long-term recommenda-tions, particularly the most importantneeds and priorities. We identified sixpriority areas for the design commu-nity’s attention.Post-disaster measures to housepeople displaced from their homesNYSAFAH’s experience coordinating theuse of vacant apartments for temporaryhousing for people displaced by Sandyshowed that there are alternatives tomobile homes or other temporaryhousing. However, the currently lowvacancy rate and issues of supply vs.demand complicated this. Learning fromSandy, they recommended the followingideas to prepare for future disasters:XX Develop an outreach strategy tocommunicate with building ownerson available vacant units;XX Develop a centralized intake processfor applications and referrals fordisplaced households;XX Identify waivers necessary forthe rehousing process;XX Identify and craft a model third-partylease agreement for householdsseeking temporary housing;XX Adopt an expedited qualifying processfor displaced households applyingfor permanent affordable housing;XX Advocate for allocation of disaster-related Section 8 vouchers for house-holds below 30% AMI.As for the regulatory requirements fordesign and construction of buildings,many of these are affected by overlap-ping regulations that make sense innormal times, but are not set up to dealwith issues of housing after disasterssuch as Sandy.Capacity buildingThe period after Sandy revealed anabsence of organizational structures tosupport the efforts of non-profit housingproviders trying to work together. Twokey priority areas were identified:XX Establishing programs in post-disastertraining for non-profit leadership;XX Establishing a new citywide non-profitorganization charged with addressingthe needs of residents living in ZonesA and V neighborhoods.The Working Group also benefited fromthe participation and support of a number ofpublic agencies including the New York CityDepartment of City Planning (DCP), the NewYork City Department of Buildings (DOB),the Mayor’s Office of Housing RecoveryOperations, the Mayor’s Office of EmergencyManagement (OEM), the New York CityHousing Authority (NYCHA), and observersfrom the Federal Emergency ManagementAgency (FEMA).19Options and Opportunities: Housing
  20. 20. Changes to the existing patchwork quiltof floodproofing regulationsThe NYC Zoning Resolution, NYCBuilding Code, FEMA design standards,and federal accessibility guidelines alladdress floodproofing issues to someextent. However, as may be expected,these regulations are not fully coordi-nated. Through a multidisciplinaryPost-Sandy Housing Charrette, theWorking Group generated a series ofrecommendations for addressing gapsboth within and between each of the setregulations pertaining to floodproofing.Retrofitting existing multi-unithousing stockNew York is a growing city with limitedland. In most cases, multi-family build-ings in the flood zone were heavilydamaged, but by and large remainstructurally sound. These buildings,particularly those owned by the NewYork City Housing Authority (NYCHA),represent a significant portion of theCity’s low-income housing inventoryand would be exceedingly costly toreplace. With strategic modifications,the useful life of most of this stock canbe extended well into the future.Create a body of literature to guidethe future floodproofing needs ofmulti-family buildings, availablein various languagesLocal and national regulations relatedto the design and construction of hous-ing in flood zones have not fully takeninto account what is required for flood-proofing in dense urban environments.Study the broaderplanning implicationsThe specific focus of the HousingWorking Group was the scale of theindividual residential building. Duringthe course of our work, however, manyquestions regarding larger planningand policy decisions were raised:Given the likelihood of rising sea levels,for instance, should building codesrequire that buildings in the City’scoastal zones be designed for higherflood levels than currently projected?Should recent downzonings in coastalareas be reexamined to understandwhether allowing exceptions for multi-family housing could increase theresiliency of these communities?How can other equally threateningfactors that may emerge from the nextstorm, including flooding resulting fromintense rainfall and wind, be addressed?It is the hope of the Housing WorkingGroup that its work and recommenda-tions will be considered and used by theresponsible agencies. It should bestressed that the conclusions andrecommendations in this report do notrepresent the policies or recommenda-tions of any one of these individualgroups or agencies.Interventions for single-family bungalow housing stockwere explored through charrettes.20Options and Opportunities: Housing
  21. 21. Post-Sandy InitiativePOLICYCONSIDERATIONSAND REGULATORYIMPLICATIONSLocal and national regulations governingthe design and construction of housingin flood zones have not fully taken intoaccount what is required for floodproof-ing in the densest urban environment inthe country. The New York City ZoningResolution, the New York City BuildingCode, FEMA design standards, andfederal ADA guidelines all addressflooding issues to some degree. How-ever, these regulations are not fullycoordinated, so a requirement stated inone may be in conflict with another. Asa result of the multidisciplinary charretteheld in February 2013, the WorkingGroup generated several recommenda-tions, which will need to be verified andmodified based on specific neighbor-hood characters, building types, andsite conditions.NYC Building CodeXX Permit handicapped lifts in floodzones;XX Wet floodproofed buildings shouldhave an emergency exit at the firstfloor above flood elevation;XX As an alternative to floodproofingindividual buildings, allow block-wideor neighborhood-wide floodproofing.NYC Zoning ResolutionXX Once a Design Flood Elevation ofthree feet is reached in a residentialbuilding, its first residential floor shouldbe allowed to be raised to ten feet,without maximum building heightpenalty, so as to create a full-heightfloor at grade. This would allow afull-height lobby and elevator, providingan accessible common entranceat grade for all residents, and use forstorage or parking or community space.XX In an existing building, if the groundfloor cannot be used, expansion shouldbe permitted horizontally or vertically,where possible, to make up for losthabitable space.Once raised, ground floor planes can be activatedby retail and community facilities.XX Make alignment provisions in contex-tual districts more flexible. In somecases they currently prevent setting abuilding far enough from the propertyline to have a ramp composed of aflood-dampening landscape or perme-able paving in front of the building.XX Where a building may have to be setback from the street line to accommo-date flood zone-related steps andramps, rear yard requirementsshould be reduced.XX Study of more flexible zoning enve-lopes should be undertaken so thatmoving more of the mechanical spacesabove the flood zone is encouraged.XX Allow electric rooms to be floor-areadeductible.XX Permit mechanical equipment in rearyards above flood elevation.XX Rezoning should allow for greaterdensity in return for greater landscapebuffer zones in the flood zone.21Options and Opportunities: Housing
  22. 22. XX Stairs with natural light should bedeductible, as is already encouraged inquality housing zoning for corridors inbuildings in contextual districts.FEMAXX Dry floodproofing of lobbies, currentlypermitted for mixed-use residentialonly, should be allowed for all multi-family buildings.XX Evacuation in place—FEMA’s objectiveis to evacuate flood areas before floodsoccur, and to minimize the risks,especially to first responders. This maynot always be possible in a denseurban environment such as New York.It is important in a flood event thatthose who do not follow governmentorders, for whatever reason, have away to get out of their buildings and tosafety during a flood.Accessibility RegulationsXX Entrances and ramps that lead to theinterior of the primary lobby should bepermitted.Changes in National FloodInsurance PoliciesThe National Flood Insurance Program(NFIP) was recently changed so thatrates for buildings that meet floodproof-ing requirements will be significantlylower than rates for buildings that donot. This will mean that many buildingowners who cannot afford to meet therequirements will not be able to affordflood insurance. This is particularly trueof one- and two-family and attached rowhouses within the flood zones, wheremodifying the buildings may be ascostly as building new. Therefore, manybuildings will not get insurance andcannot be upgraded to current flood-proofing standards. This creates poten-tial risks and costs for the City and otherlevels of government when the nextcatastrophic storm hits.For existing buildings in the new orexpanded flood zones, particularlyone- and two-family detached andattached homes, renewing insurancewill require much more robust flood-proofing measures. These measures arelikely to be costly. Efforts should bemade to develop more affordablefloodproofing options such as active bar-rier installations. Techniques to collec-tively fund and maintain such systems,which would decrease costs to individu-al homeowners, are used successfully inplaces like Prague in the Czech Republicand should be studied.Other IssuesXX Illegal basement apartments in build-ings in the flood zone. While there is nodefinitive count of how many exist,there are vast numbers of such unitsthat cannot be re-inhabited. This willbe a hardship for displaced renters andowners who are dependent on thisincome.XX Dealing with the regulatory impedi-ments to short-term rental of vacanthousing units (see Appendix posted onwww.postsandyinitiative.org)XX A Good Samaritan law for designprofessionals.Options are being explored that combinewet-proofing and dry-proofing.22Options and Opportunities: Housing
  23. 23. Post-Sandy Initiative1. The BuildingRising Ground Floors2. The Problem3. Raise the Building4. Support the Building5. Enter the BuildingWhat do we do withthe ground floor?Pushes building back.Ramp may be toolong to fit.6. Enter the Building7. Enter the Building IIPermitted in mixedbuildings either wet ordry flood proofingResidential buildings onlywet floodproofing.8. Enter the Building II9. Enter the Building IIDo we need emergencyexit for floods?Required for dry flood-proofing.10. Enter the Building IIIPrimary entrance is notaccessible.If Ramp is in Lobby OK.NYC does not permitlifts.Credit: Curtis+Ginsberg Architects23Options and Opportunities: Housing
  24. 24. The Broader ContextAlthough the charge of the WorkingGroup was to focus on individualresidential buildings, many questionsregarding larger planning and policydecisions were raised. Should thebuilding code require that buildings inthe City’s coastal zones be designed forhigher flood levels than currentlyprojected? Or, if possible, should we findways to return vacant or irrevocablydamaged sites to soft-edge conditions (aprogram initiated by New York State onStaten Island)? Newly published projec-tions on sea-level rise should be closelystudied in conjunction with the nowupdated FEMA flood maps. Regulationscould, for instance, permit or encouragefloodproofing in the 500-year flood zone.Over the last twenty years, manylow-density areas of the City have beendownzoned. For a variety of reasonsdescribed elsewhere in this chapter,multifamily buildings are more resilientand easier to retrofit to incorporatefloodproof features. In addition, efficien-cies of scale allow emergency systemsthat facilitate faster reoccupations ofmultifamily buildings in flood areas. Incoastal areas, these downzoned areasshould be reexamined.OPPORTUNITIESAND NEXT STEPSFEMA Multifamily ManualExisting FEMA literature had tremen-dous value in getting the WorkingGroup up to speed. However, regardingresidential construction, the currentFEMA and National Flood InsuranceProgram (NFIP) literature are largelyfocused on one- and two-family housingand fail to cover many issues related tomultifamily housing. The HousingWorking Group has identified severalareas where we believe that we can beof help to FEMA in outlining, andperhaps helping to author, a FEMAmultifamily design guide.Design of Areas BelowBase Flood ElevationsCareful design of spaces below the baseflood elevation (BFE) is important for alltypes of housing. It would be expectedthat only water- and mold-resistantmaterials be used below the BFE nomatter the housing type. Multifamilyhousing structures, however, often differfrom one- and two-family buildings.Based on height, longevity, and combus-tibility concerns, multifamily housingtypically incorporates robust materialssuch as masonry and concrete. DuringSandy, it became clear that thesestructures performed better than thewood framing typical of one- andtwo-family homes.When flood elevations rise, minimumrequired elevations for residentialspaces rise, and with these increasedelevations come the vertical convey-ances needed to get people to thoseelevations. In one- and two- familyhousing, where accessibility rules do notapply or are often less stringent, stairscan be used for elevations too high forramps. Because of a multitude ofaccessibility regulations, multifamilyhousing typically must incorporateramps, elevators, and lifts. Zoningregulations should be adjusted torecognize the amount of space thesefeatures occupy. For instance, as BFEsexceed three feet above grade, werecommend that first-floor residential bepermitted to be raised to ten feetwithout maximum building heightpenalty, so that a full-height lobby canbe accessed at grade and dry- or wet-floodproofed as required for commonaccess to an elevator.On-Site Evacuationand Areas of RefugeWhen it comes to occupants’ life safetyat the time of an impending storm,evacuation is the best policy, regardlessof housing type. Yet several externalfactors combine to make evacuationfrom multifamily housing more difficult,placing rapid post-storm re-occupationof homes more critical. Multifamilyhousing often occurs in dense, urbancommunities that are transit-dependent,like New York City. But as Sandy hasshown, mass transportation may beaffected by or limited during an emer-gency, and mass evacuations can lead tocongestion and a reduction in mobility.Two types of specialized multifamilyhousing present particular challenges toevacuation, and underscore the need toaddress the issue of those who may notbe able to leave their homes. First,low-income rental buildings, whereresidents may not possess cars, or theresources to move to temporary hous-ing. Secondly, supportive and seniorhousing where residents may be at-tached to their permanent homesbecause of medical or disability con-cerns and cannot easily transportthemselves elsewhere. To address thesesituations, the Working Group recom-mends identifying a safe room (mostlikely, a community room) that can beused for congregating, roll call, andrescue during emergency conditions.Building SystemsMultifamily housing should be engi-neered with building systems thatprotect against building shutdownsduring emergencies and ensure a quickreturn to normal or standby functionspost-event. One example is reliance inmunicipal utility-provided electricity.One- and two-family home operatorsmay opt to partially power their homeswith oil-fueled generators. This is not anoption for multifamily housing.Mid-rise multifamily housing is, how-ever, a good candidate for the use ofemergency generators wired to atransfer switch with emergency powercircuits. In high-rise construction, in fact,the Building Code requires this. In NewYork City, more and more buildings areinstalling city-piped natural gas-fueledgenerators; this trend may have broaderpolicy implications given the fact thatthe City gas supply has not been inter-rupted during major storms.We believe there are additional opportu-nities for emergency generators to beused for cogeneration. Cogeneration, inwhich heat entropy generated in theprocess of creating electric power iscaptured for heating and domestic hotwater, is most efficient in multifamilyhousing, particularly in projects of 100or more units. With cogeneration’s24Options and Opportunities: Housing
  25. 25. Post-Sandy Initiativetransfer switch and emergency circuitryalso comes the opportunity to wirerenewable power sources, such asphotovoltaic panels and wind turbines,into the building for safe use duringpower outages. This would allow firepumps, elevators, emergency lighting,refrigerators, and even a convenienceoutlet in each apartment to remainoperational. It would also provide forheat and hot water to remain availablevia cogeneration. Finally, high-perfor-mance building envelopes, which areincreasingly required and more likely tobe financed for multifamily housingprojects, could contribute to the efficien-cy of backup systems.Best PracticesThe Housing Working Group contactedAIA, ASLA, and APA chapters around thecountry, asking for best practices infloodproof design. We developed a formto collect information in an organizedand comparative format listing projectlocation, housing type, flood elevationdata, design strategies, flood-basedregulatory actions, lessons learned/recommendations, and project graphics.All of these documents are cataloguedand appear in the online appendix.These materials include methods forinstalling removable dry-flood barriersto existing buildings as used in ConeyIsland, and the Pontilly NeighborhoodsAssociation’s work in New Orleans,where landscape architects used floodmitigation techniques to absorb andre-channel floodwaters. Future researchwill collect examples from overseas aswell as other cities in the United States.Section through two-family house illustratingadaptation for ramped accessibility and theaddition of a new top floor.When flood elevationsrise, minimum requiredelevations for residentialspaces rise and with theseincreased elevations comethe vertical conveyancesneeded to get people tothose elevations.25Options and Opportunities: Housing
  26. 26. CRITICAL COMMERCIALBUILDINGSWith substantial parts of the New York City metro area’spower grid down and with Superstorm Sandy’s floodwatersdisabling emergency power, at least 4 major NYC hospitals(Bellevue, Coney Island, Manhattan VA, and NYU Langone)were forced to evacuate all patients and to completely shutdown. Coler at the north end of Roosevelt Island transferredsome patients to its sister Goldwater at the south. Thesame level of vulnerability took down four major datacenters supporting the telecommunications networks inLower Manhattan. A police station was abandoned whenit flooded and a wall collapsed. In Brooklyn and Queens,29 nursing homes were severely damaged; despite receivinginstructions to shelter their populations in place, they wereunprepared to endure the storm and its desolatingaftermath. Individual buildings, as well as city- and region-wide systems, were also unready. They still are.Building owners have a four-fold responsibility whenclimate-driven disasters strike:XX Protecting occupants and users from death, injury,and suffering;XX Avoiding the evacuation of occupants if possible;XX Protecting buildings and their contents from damage;XX Ensuring that buildings can operate duringand after the event.The challenges of adapting the vastinventory of existing critical buildings towithstand the effects of extreme climateevents are distinct from the relativelyeasier task of designing new structuresfor resiliency.Current building technologies offer the ability to constructnew buildings and retrofit existing ones to better withstandthe anticipated impacts of climate change. However,the challenges of adapting the vast inventory of existingbuildings to those standards are distinct from the relativelyeasier task of designing new structures for resiliency. Thereexists a vast body of technical standards that can be put inplace, or adapted for the local situation as it is coming to beunderstood. But a sobering aspect of the new paradigm isthe rapid increase in dangerous conditions, such as risingsea levels and more powerful storms, as well as the ever-deepening science of the likely effects of climate change.Building standards and disaster planning will need to berevisited and updated frequently.26
  27. 27. Post-Sandy InitiativeThe Critical Commercial BuildingsWorking Group consisted of 18professionals, representing the maindisciplines of the design professionincluding architects, planners, mechanicalengineers, structural engineers, andhospital administrators. The groupconducted six evening workshops over thecourse of two months. The Working Groupincorporated five sub-groups: VulnerabilityAssessment, Structural/Façade, BuildingInfrastructure, Operational Planning, andImplementation. Each sub-group produceda report on its assigned topic, which wasincorporated into the final report.KEY CONCEPTSAND FINDINGSOwners of all commercial and institu-tional buildings—existing, in construc-tion or planned—can begin now on afour-part process to meet their responsi-bilities in response to climate disasters.Owners should:XX Conduct vulnerability assessments oftheir buildings in anticipation of thelikely effects of extreme climateevents;XX Identify the specific technical stan-dards their buildings must meet, andthe technologies and products avail-able to do so;XX Update operational plans to keep theirbuildings working during disasters,and to quickly recover functionalityafterwards;XX Create implementation plans to put inplace the remedial actions indicated bythe three preceding steps.Assessing VulnerabilityFirst, the specific impacts buildingsmight experience during climate-drivendisasters should be determined. Thepotential effects on a given location canbe inferred from published flood-zoneand wind maps, as well as historical andmodeled future weather data. As notedin the Introduction, however, the increas-ing severity of recent and anticipatedclimate events reveals much existingdata to be inadequate, and highlights anurgent need to update and reach con-sensus on such standards.Second, the critical roles of specificbuildings should be established. Abuilding, or a portion of one, should beconsidered a critical facility if it isrequired to withstand the effects of adisaster and remain in operation,whether to safeguard the activityconducted within it, or the lives and well-being of its occupants, other disastervictims, or emergency-services person-nel. Critical facilities include, for exam-ple, hospitals, police and fire stations,data centers, evacuation shelters, andNew York City during the lower Manhattanblackout, after Superstorm Sandy.Photo credit: Vanni Archive27
  28. 28. Utility ServicesRiskAddressed Proposed MeasureCritical FacilityNew ExistingIncoming ElectricServiceFlood Locate or relocate incoming service above FEMA flood evaluation Req. BPExisting Utility Rooms to be made watertight with bulkhead or submarine doors and extensivewaterproofing. Waterproof cable entries below flood plain.N/A Req.Existing Utility Rooms to be made watertight with bulkhead or submarine doors and extensivewaterproofing. Waterproof cable entries below flood plain.Req. Req.ExtremeHeatElectric Utility Rooms to be provided with ventilation and/or air conditioning to maintain roomtemperature to stay below equipment temperature ratings. Use ASHRAE Weather Data.codemandatedReq. BPWind Evaluate overhead distribution (where permissible) versus direct buried based on potential wind and floodevents. Design overhead distribution to FEMA Wind Zone Maps.Req. BPIncomingIT Services(Telephone Data)Flood Locate or relocate incoming services above FEMA flood elevation using approved cables Req. BPExisting Utility Rooms to be made watertight with bulkhead or submarine doors and extensivewaterproofing. Waterproof cable entries below flood plain.N/A Req.ProviderInterruptionIf existing Utility Rooms cannon be relocated, consider redundant wireless communicationand data system.BP BPGas Service Flood Locate or relocate incoming gas service above FEMA flood evaluation Req. BPExisting Gas Service Rooms to be made watertight with bulkhead or submarine doors and extensivewaterproofing. Waterproof pipe entry.N/A Req.Domestic Water Flood Locate or relocate incoming water service above FEMA flood evaluation Req. BPProviderInterruptionConsider water storage tanks on site. BP BPSteam Service Flood Locate or relocate incoming steam service above FEMA flood evaluation Req. BPExisting Steam Service Utility Rooms to be made watertight with bulkhead or submarine doorsand extensive waterproofing.N/A Req.MechanicalEquipment(boilers, chillers,pumps, fans, airconditioning units,storage tanks,etc.) essentialfor the facility tooperate and fulfullits missionFlood Locate or relocate above FEMA flood elevations. Req. BPExisting Mechanical Rooms to be made watertight where practical with bulkhead doors and extensivewaterproofing. External flood barriers should be considered.N/A*Req.BPWind All exterior equipment to be property strapped down to meet FEMA Wind Maps. Req. Req.Provide barriers to protect against damage from wind-blown projectiles. N/A Req.ExtremeHeatSystems to be designed to maintain minimum code requirements for occupant and building functionality.Load shedding to be employed. Use code-mandated ASHRAE Weather Data.Req. BPFire Pump Flood Locate fire pumps above FEMA flood plain elevation. If not feasible due to code or inadequate streetpressure, provide submersible watertight room. Review with FDNY.Req. BPEmergency andStandby PowerFlood Locate or relocate generators above FEMA flood evaluation Req. Req.Wind Protect exterior equipment from wind-blown damage and projectiles. Req. Req.ExtremeHeatEvaluate capacity to serve life safety loads during extreme heat. BP BPExtendedWidespreadOutageEvaluate and add additional loads above Code mandated to fulfull the building’s functional requirementsduring prolonged outages. Provide additional standby generation.BP BPEmergencyand StandbyGenerator FuelSourceFlood Fuel oil tank’s pumps and controls to be located in a submersible watertight room with bulkhead orsubmarine doors. Fuel pump to be submersible to pump up to transfer tank and pumps on level locatedabove the FEMA flood plain elevations.Req. Req.ProlongedOutage ofPowerProvide additional fuel capacity above code-mandated minmum for emergency and stanby loads neededfor building functionality, or provide dual fueld source (oil and gas) fired generators to extend existing oilstorage. Technology not readily available.BP BPSump Pumps EjectorsFlood Locate in watertight submersible room with bulkhead or submarine doors and put on emergency power. Req. BPEnhanced StandbyPower Generationand/or Co-GenerationProlongedOutage ofPowerBased on a regional plan for healthcare and critical facilities, designate those facilities that needto operate in a self-sufficient mode with no reliance on the normal electric grid.BP BPFire AlarmCommand StationFlood Provide redundant Fire Command Station above the FEMA flood plain. Req. BPFire Alarm Devices Flood Locate fire alarm system devices above the FEMA flood plain. Req. BPElevators Flood Locate power and controls above FEMA flood plain. Cars to recall above FEMA flood plain. Req. BPThis matrix illustrates the kinds of changes that can be integratedinto code, using healthcare facilities as a category of building.BP = Best Practices Req. = Required *N/A for Healthcare FacilitySystems Matrix28Options and Opportunities: Critical Commercial Buildings
  29. 29. Post-Sandy Initiativebuildings or portions of buildings thatprovide essential support to them. Othervulnerable buildings should be requiredto withstand a climate disaster withoutfailure of structural components,including façade elements, though theyneed not remain functioning and arelikely to be evacuated during the disas-ter; these should be considered protect-ed facilities rather than critical.Third, survey building systems. Essentialbuilding systems comprise the designfeatures, technologies, and equipmentnecessary to support continued opera-tions. For critical facilities, for example,these include emergency power sys-tems, water and ventilation systems,vertical transportation systems, andfood storage and preparation facilities.For critical facilities, the survey shouldassess the ability of essential buildingsystems to continue functioning duringa disaster. For protected facilities, thesurvey should evaluate the ability ofthe building structure and façade tosurvive intact.Meeting Updated Technical StandardsTwo building components—structure/facades and internal systems—are keyto resisting climate-driven threatswhether from flooding, wind, snow,or extreme temperatures. Simply put,the goal is to assure that a building’sphysical structure remains intact andrelatively undamaged by the forces ofa disaster, especially the structuralsystem and the building envelope,including fenestration.Façade and structure: Current New YorkCity and State codes specifying designrequirements for snow resistance andflood resistance do not require changes.For wind load design, however, require-ments should be upgraded to ASCE/SEI7-10; this code provides ultimate wind-speed values and introduces maps thatincorporate the risk categories. Forexample, for Occupancy Category IIIand IV buildings, which include thoseposing a substantial hazard to humanlife in the event of failure, such asschools, hospitals, and critical facilitiesas defined above, this code requirementcorresponds to wind speeds with onlya 3% probability of being exceeded in50 years.Systems: We studied a range of buildingsystem and utility issues, including thevulnerability points of electricity, IT, gas,water, and steam services as they entera building; the location and protection ofmechanical equipment; emergencyequipment to provide for and back upsupplies of water and power; fire alarmand firefighting systems; and elevators.We reviewed these in the context ofthree facility types—commercial andinstitutional; healthcare; and othermission-critical buildings—and for bothnew and existing structures. Examplesof options for making these systemsmore resilient are shown here.In general, a new critical building mustmeet higher performance standardsthan a commercial building, since its ser-vices are to be available before, during,and after a climate-driven event; newcritical buildings should comply fullywith new standards. Existing buildingsdemand more flexibility in determiningthe best corrective action. A realisticapproach for an existing building isgenerally a best-practice standard, withsome latitude in offering equivalentsolutions. In some cases for existingbuildings, even those deemed critical infunction, evacuation may be the onlyfeasible action to permit compliance.Developing Operational PlansWhile many New York City-areaagencies and institutions have disasterplans in place, in general these needto be updated to reflect the increasedrisks our region is now understood toface. Moreover, disaster planningshould always consider buildings andtheir particular vulnerabilities andrequirements.Before An EventNot all disasters can be foreseen,but for some—in particular, weatherevents—there may be substantialwarning and the ability to anticipatespecific effects like flooding. Buildingowners’ advance operational plansshould address a range of issues,including the evacuation and relocationof occupants, building shutdowns,and the possible extended relocationof occupants afterwards. For criticalfacilities, emergency equipment andsupplies should be accommodated,temporary relocations should be envi-sioned, and advance arrangementsshould be made with the NYC Officeof Emergency Management for disaster-zone access for essential personnel.Hospital protected from flood water by a flood wall in mid-state New York.Photo credit: FEMA29Options and Opportunities: Critical Commercial Buildings
  30. 30. During An EventPlanning should consider the provisionof security for evacuated buildings; inClass E high-rise buildings, the risk of afire-detection system failure requiresparticular attention. Hospitals bydefinition are both especially vulnerableand uniquely essential during disasters,and disaster planning for them createsdistinct obligations. For example,hospitals should plan for surge capacityfor emergency and inpatient depart-ments, the capability to house and feedstranded staff, and provisions for“passive operational survivability,” suchas natural ventilation during powerfailures and electric generation capabili-ties independent of the City’s grid.After An EventPlans for continuing or resumingoperations in the wake of a disastershould consider that normal transporta-tion and supply routes will most likelybe disrupted. Therefore, back-up sup-plies and the on-site storage capacityfor them are necessary. Emergency-supply agreements made in advancewith vendors may be advisable. Portableemergency trailers housing heatingor electrical generators, water or oxygensupply, and sewage or waste contain-ment may need to be accommodatedas well.Clean-up and decontamination mayrequire, for example, pre-negotiatedarrangements with specializedcontractors or vendors for mold remov-al, fuel or sewage overflows, debrisremoval, disposal of floodwater andthe like, and environmental waiversfor removing contaminated water anddebris to disposal points. Restorationof normal operations may requirepost-storm inspections of floor andfaçade walls; testing and remediationof mechanical, electrical, plumbing,and communications systems; dryingout of flooded areas; prioritizing ofrepairs and/or demolition; and evena strategy for abandonment or managedretreat, if a facility is found to be dam-aged beyond repair.Implementing a PlanDetermining A Building’s Risks,Strengths, and WeaknessesConducting a vulnerability assessmentof a building and evaluating it againstupdated technical standards will indicatewhat must be done to make it disaster-ready. This process will also illuminaterelative priorities among the risks abuilding faces and the available solu-tions, and create a sense of sequencefor how to proceed.Calculating Available ResourcesImplementation of a plan requiresevaluating both capital and humanresources. Capital resources could befunds from internal sources, such asoperating budgets and borrowing; orfrom external sources, such as grants,tax incentives, and philanthropy. Humanresources include the personnel whowill be expected to follow the operation-al procedures developed for withstand-ing and recovering from an extremeevent. They also include a building’sstakeholders who may be potential alliesor opponents in preparedness planning.Reconciling Needs and ResourcesArriving at a realistic plan will meanreconciling needs with resources.Typically, needs outstrip resources,so that strategic trade-offs and defer-ments are necessary. These can bearrived at by:XX Developing a detailed plan;XX Conducting cost-benefit analyses ofits elements;XX Determining a timeframe and budget;XX Assembling a team responsible forimplementation.Keeping On TrackXX A progress-monitoring system,and honest assessments of progress,should be part of establishinga building’s preparedness.XX Deviations from a plan mustbe corrected.XX Standards may change, our under-standing of the risks may change,and available funding may change,so periodic re-examination andre-calibration will be necessary.Intervals of four and eight yearsare realistic to stay up to date.POLICYCONSIDERATIONSAND REGULATORYIMPLICATIONSBecause vulnerability assessmentsare the necessary first step in makingbuildings resilient, and because noobstacles exist to undertaking themimmediately, the City Council shouldenact a law requiring building ownersto conduct vulnerability assessmentsof their properties.A great number of specific changes tocurrent zoning and building codes willFlood wall near New Orleans, LA, USAPhoto credit: FEMA30Options and Opportunities: Critical Commercial Buildings
  31. 31. Post-Sandy Initiativebe called for if the City and its buildingsare to withstand repeated climate-drivenand other disasters. In general, theseinclude:XX An updated building code mandatinga more robust disaster resistancecapability for all new buildings.XX Hardening and retrofitting of existingbuildings deemed vulnerable. Thiswill be expensive, and in some casesimpossible. The building code shouldprovide a mechanism for permittingnon-compliance; in such cases, analternative strategy of evacuationshould be required. Critical-functionbuildings in vulnerable locations musthave a plan for Transfer of Service toa protected alternate facility, and thesealternate facilities should be requiredto have the additional capacity andequipment to accommodate such atransfer.XX Zoning for land-uses should appropri-ately align with new and updatedknowledge of flood zones and otherrisks, which may mean downzoning insome areas; and revisions to zoningand density limits for other areas thatmay in the future be required to absorbgrowth previously destined for floodzones and vulnerable waterfronts.OPPORTUNITIESAND NEXT STEPSLong TermInnovation in the development ofdisaster-resistant building designstrategies, technologies, and materialsis essential. Where applicable, suchinnovations that already exist or arebeing implemented in other countrieswhere resiliency planning is moreadvanced should be adopted oradapted. New York City’s particularvulnerabilities call for:XX Policies that move toward eliminationof non-compliant existing buildingsthat cannot be hardened, and theirreplacement—with an exception pathfor buildings deemed of significanthistoric or cultural value.XX Regional protective systems thatenhance, or eliminate the need for,individual building responses.These should involve making utility,data, and security networks redundantand resilient, and finding regionalstrategies for maintaining essentialservices and supplies, such as publictransport, food, and fuel, duringdisasters. In particular, regionalnetworks for maintaining essentialhealthcare services must be estab-lished.Medium TermNumerous scientific, governmental, andprofessional organizations and collab-oratives are exploring the potentialimpacts of climate change on naturaland built environments; these includethe Federal Emergency ManagementAgency, the National Academy ofSciences, the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration, the U.S.Conference of Mayors, C40 Cities ClimateLeadership Group, and many others. Thespecific challenges that extreme climateevents pose for buildings, cities, and inparticular for densely populated areas,illuminated by our experience of Sandyand explored by this and other initiativesin the storm’s aftermath, must bebrought to the attention of these re-search bodies. The goals should include:XX Better simulation models of waterand wind behavior on built structures;XX New national reference code forbuilding construction;XX Zoning and planning approaches thatbring patterns of development into linewith present and emerging knowledgeof disaster-prone areas.Short TermAdvisory bodies have been establishedat the City and state levels, and amongprofessional associations, to developrecommendations for changes to codesand zoning, façade and structuralsystems, building systems, and opera-tional requirements. Similar groupsfocused on disaster-response planningwill also have recommendations relevantto the design and operation of buildings.Their valuable findings will need to bealigned and reconciled. In the meantime,building owners should begin assess-ment programs to determine their risks;undertake voluntary upgrades to theirproperties; and update operational plansfor disaster events.A collaborative, integrated designapproach to assessing and upgradingcritical and commercial buildings willenable these important facilities toremain in operation when we mostneed them.Watertight submarine door for creation of aprotected infrastructure space. Photo credit: FEMAWatertight submarine door for protectionof critical equipment within an unprotectedpassageway. Photo credit: FEMA31Options and Opportunities: Critical Commercial Buildings
  32. 32. WATERFRONTThe Waterfront is Not Alone“The waterfront” in New York City and the region isactually a placeholder term for an astoundingly diverserange of conditions, comprising ocean, riverine, andestuarine systems within a broader context of water flow.The Urban Waterfront Adaptive Strategies study that iscurrently being drafted by the New York City Departmentof City Planning will elucidate and classify the array ofdifferent shoreline and land-use conditions that makeup “the waterfront.”The waterfront zone is, literally, a transitory edge. Ourculture has been changing in recent years to counterattempts to harden waterfront edges and transform theminto permanent habitable places. If we are to continue toadapt to changing conditions in the future, we will need tobe even more versatile in the ways we design our coastalbuilt environments. Flood events and storm surges are notanomalies; rather, they are parts of historic natural cycles,although their frequency and intensity are dramaticallyincreasing because of continuing global warming. Theyonly become tragic events if we deny their existence andfail to plan for them.Every waterfront edge is an integral part of an intercon-nected regional watershed, and the dynamics of thatwatershed provide the context for any individual water-front plan or design.Within this ecological context, and with appropriateplanning and design, there is a wide array of opportunitiesto integrate diverse land-uses including natural habitats,public access, parks, housing, commercial districts, andworking waterfronts at appropriate locations.The future of New York as a waterfrontcity depends on respecting our changingenvironment and building on theunifying strength of our dynamic harborand waterways in creative ways.32

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