Year 4, Month 7, Day 2: Just Enough For The City

The Paramus Post (Paramus, NJ) discusses Michael Bloomberg’s plan for climate adaptation:

In the devastating aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn charged the task force with giving recommendations to improve the resiliency of city buildings and maximize preparedness for extreme weather conditions like high winds, high temperatures and flooding. Urban Green Council led the 200+ member task force.

Highlights of specific suggestions:

• Create stronger buildings—require new and replacement doors and windows to be wind resistant; anchor homes to their foundations; design sidewalks to capture storm water.

• Ensure reliable backup power—make it easier for buildings to use backup generators and solar energy; require buildings to keep stairwells and hallways lit during blackouts; add hookups for roll-up generators and boilers.

• Provide essential safety—install a community water faucet for entire buildings during power outages; maintain habitable temperatures during blackouts by improving insulation; ensure windows open enough to both reduce overheating and guarantee child safety.

• Implement better planning—create emergency plans; adopt a new city code for existing buildings; support “Good Samaritan” legislation that protects architects and engineers from liability for emergency volunteer work.

The report makes recommendations for four specific types of buildings: commercial, multifamily residential, homes and hospitals. Recommendations require a combination of upgrading existing codes, implementing new codes, employing retrofits, removing barriers and adopting voluntary practices at the building ownership level. The suggestions strike a balance between resiliency and cost.

All good stuff, but just a drop in the bucket. June 16:

Preparing for extreme weather is a crucial part of any plan for adapting to a climatically-transformed world. As the greenhouse effect continues to elevate atmospheric temperatures, increased moisture in the air will bring more precipitation — and failing to plan ahead will inevitably mean more lives disrupted, more property destroyed, more money wasted. Mr. Bloomberg’s plans for buildings and infrastructure in New York City are an excellent start.

But there is more to do in planning for the impacts of climate change than strengthening foundations, improving drainage, and reinforcing utility connections. Delivery systems for food and water need to be developed, tested, and practiced; community groups must be integrated into disaster response, increasing the resilience and flexibility of individual neighborhoods in coping with disasters.

And, finally, people everywhere need to accept that the climate crisis is a dangerous and undeniable reality. We can no longer afford the luxury of denial.

Warren Senders

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