New York City launches updated climate resilience design guidelines

New York City launches updated climate resilience design guidelines

By Will Bugler

In April 2019, New York City released new and updated Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines that apply to all city capital projects, with the exception of coastal protection projects. The guidelines direct planners, engineers, architects, and others involved in project delivery on how to use regionally-specific future climate projections in the design of city facilities.

The guidelines are designed to be used throughout all stages of the project design process, starting with the initiation of capital planning and through final design. They provide step-by-step instructions on how to supplement historic climate data with specific, regional, forward-looking climate change data in the design of City facilities. The guidelines aim to ensure that resilient design becomes an integral part of the project planning process for City agencies and designers.

The Guidelines are an effort to incorporate forward-looking climate change data in the design of all City capital projects. Existing codes and standards already incorporate historic weather data to determine how to design for today’s conditions. However, with climate change the past is no longer a good guide to the robust design standards that will be required in the future. The guidelines therefore incorporate the work of the New York Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), which provides city-level climate projections.

Developed by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resilience (ORR), the Guidelines encourage resilience approaches to infrastructure development in the city. A successful resilience strategy, the guidelines say, is one that “provides co-beneficial outcomes, reduces costs over the life of the asset wherever possible, and avoids negative indirect impacts to other systems.”

Instead the guidelines encourage infrastructure projects to take an integrated approach from planning to implementation, ensuring that they are a cohesive part of exiting processes that address goals defined by the City. The guidelines suggest that this is best achieved by:

  1. integrating “soft” resiliency strategies (operational measures or investments in green infrastructure) and “hard” resiliency strategies (built or intensive investments);
  2. addressing multiple climate hazards with single interventions; and
  3. reducing climate change risk in concert with other goals (e.g., energy efficiency or reduction in greenhouse gas emissions).

A copy of the NYC Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines can be downloaded here.

Photo by Namphuong Van on Unsplash

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