When planning for economic policy, planners, politicians, and citizens alike think mainly of the effects of developments on a community’s economic well being. However, the effects of unforeseen climate factors may be just as influential, and cannot be governed by the politics and zones of urban design. As more knowledge becomes available to planners about the effects of climate on the built environment, I believe it must be a top priority to plan for safety and sustainability.
One recent example of this is New York City’s plaNYC, first released in 2007 for a “Greener, Greater New York”- has been updated after Hurricane Sandy as a plan for a “Stronger, More Resilient New York.” The plan outlines how the city will promote policies for greater energy efficiency, and respond to the increasing effects of climate change. The report attributes rising sea levels (due to climate change) as a factor which exacerbated the effects of the superstorm.
The above data is based on projections published by FEMA in 1983 that shows the areas which are more likely to suffer greater consequences from flooding in the future. As sea levels continue to rise, planners must work to modify how the city is planned by what buildings are built in these areas, how they are built, and how to protect the infrastructure.
The PlaNYC document approaches these issues by developing a “Total Asset and Economic Activity Loss” model to predict the effects of a storm like Sandy on New York City in the future. This is a starting point to measure the severity of flooding on certain areas, and how much money should be spent on protective strategies. The next chapter outlines “Coastal Protection,” which states that the greatest risks New York City faces in the future are the effects of storm surge and wave action. Strategies to protect against these problems include building barriers, increasing coastal edge elevation, and increasing coastal design. Planners are especially important in the latter strategy, which entails using open space to protect adjacent neighborhoods as well as increase the quality of life by implementing open spaces in the city.
As the city begins to implement policies to protect its built environment and the people in it, it must consider many perspectives of planning: economic, safety, environmental, and community. Planning for the environment and climate is an extremely important factor to consider in an age which has access to the technology to find the solutions to this problems, and I am extremely impressed with the planned outlined by New York City in this regard.