The spectre of climate change in areas most at risk for disaster touches property sales, brokerage, management and development. The design, construction and remediation of commercial buildings increasingly includes planning for risk mitigation, where lessons learned from disasters such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are applied to commercial development. The increased costs for such planning, sustainability experts counsel, is dwarfed by the cost of failure to plan for rising sea levels.
What can be done?
Southeast Florida Responds
October of last year saw the release of a climate change action plan for Southeast Florida. ”A Region Responds To A Changing Climate” from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact Counties (PDF downloadable here).
A collaborative effort from the municipalities, partners and county governments of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties, the plan looks ahead five years and sets forth a set of methods for “mapping sea-level rise impacts, assessing vulnerability, and understanding the sources of regional greenhouse gas emissions” with the aim to “preserve the region’s unique quality of life and economy, guide future investments, and foster livable, sustainable and resilient communities”.
The plan represents a collaborative process involving nearly 100 subject matter experts from a host of professions representing the public and private sectors, area universities, and not-for-profit organizations. “These stakeholders brought to the table the knowledge of their “craft” as well as information on successful initiatives already underway locally or in other communities. Many of the
recommendations build upon best practices sprinkled throughout our region, such as regional collaboration on transportation planning and land use criteria that foster walkable and healthy communities. Others delve into “new” frontiers in calling for the integration of climate change into planning and decision-making processes in ways that no local government has yet implemented.
Land Use And Development Under The Plan
Under the plan, land use requires new development and redevelopment projects to be designed to promote transit oriented development and transit use, which mixes residential, retail, office, open space and public uses in a pedestrian-friendly environment. Rerouting of roads and directing of development to areas not vulnerable to flood or to limit potential flood damage is also included as part of the plan. Included also is a laundry list of critical requirements such as water storage, climate change monitoring, aquifer recharge, and zoning / building code revisions that better address the risk of flood.
Plans similar to Southeast Florida’s can be expected to be produced in most coastal regions; is one underway in yours?