In 2008, our Svante team was asked to analyze the long term resilience of the Willets Point community development in Queens. The developers estimated only a few inches of sea-level rise by mid-century. Svante was a start-up I co-founded with two NASA Climate Scientists to help municipalities and businesses understand the impact of climate.
Our analysis showed clearly that the $3BM development project would be uninhabitable by 2050 based on more accurate sea level and resilience estimations. The development was later redesigned.
Use data to assess where climate risks are highest
Improve zoning and building standards to fight sea-level rise
Support natural solutions to reducing shoreline erosion
According to climate researchers, sea-level has risen 9 inches since 1950 and is expected to rise another 2.5 feet in NYC by 2050.
Rising waters damage city infrastructure, interrupt businesses and public transit, and destroy homes, putting thousands of lives in danger. Currently, more than 30,000 properties are at risk of frequent flooding. We must take proactive action against the ever-growing threat of sea-level rise.
The most important thing we can do to encourage coastal resilience right now is to implement new coastal resilience zoning plans.
There is currently a proposal to update NYC’s building and coastal resilience plans. The plans would bring city planning into line with sea-level rise predictions, use updated flood information, and streamline the permitting process. The proposal would also update flood risk maps, storm surge maps, and building requirements for new construction. Furthermore, the plans account for coastal resilience techniques such as plantings on our coasts to reduce storm surge. There are also options for renovations that would be supported by new flood risk maps that would empower homeowners to seek financing to make homes more resilient to flooding risks. Climate change is a material threat to the city, and updating our infrastructure is a significant tool for reducing future damage and costs.
If you want to learn more here are some links:
Living shorelines are purpose-built marshes, a form of green infrastructure technique that uses native vegetation alone or with low sills to stabilize shorelines.
Constructing living shorelines maintains a natural barrier between developed land and impeding seas, while also providing nutrients and essential habitat structures to wildlife. Living shorelines improve the City's resilience against storms by breaking up incoming waves, absorbing up to half of each wave's energy, and reducing storm surge flooding. Living shorelines do not erode like seawalls, which cause significant shoreline deterioration over time. They do not need to be rebuilt, only maintained, so they are also a good source of sustainable jobs. By protecting against rising sea-levels, storm surges, absorbing pollutants, and supporting jobs, living shorelines represent an essential investment in resilience for the future of our City.