SPN: Adapting to Climate Change

September 20th brought 5 views about climate change to the Newman Library at Baruch College.  The panel discussion, sponsored by Sustainability Practice Network (SPN,) included: David Kooris , RPA; Michael Marrella, NYC DCP; Malcolm Bowman, SUNY Stony Brook, Chris Zeppie, PANYNJ and Jake Baker, Deutsche Asset Management.

The following are highlights that this correspondent took from the event.

David Kooris, Michaell Marrella, Malcom Bowman, Chris Zeppie & Jake Baker

David Kooris introduced the panel and gave the audience background to the issue.

Michael Marrella gave a presentation and showed two documents that address resiliency — PlaNYC2001 updated on April 2011 and the Waterfront plan 2020.  Climate resilience refers to our ability to withstand and recover from climate-related events.  These can be  a variety of  approaches. In short one can think of them as protect, accommodate & retreat.  There are adaptive strategies: mobile barriers, fixed barrier, wave attenuation, shoreline armoring, multi-functional dikes, super levees, elevating first floor of buildings, flood walls and gates (retro fitting for buildings) — a catalog of remedies.

Malcolm Bowman discussed climate change in general. He reminded the audience that world faces not just rising sea levels, but also  plate tectonics.  for some regions the latter is significant, but not in the Northeast.

Chris Zeppie discussed sustainability policy at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) Why plan? PANYNJ infrastructure is coastal and will (is being) be impacted.   The PANYNJ looks at assessing risk and hardening facilities, (e.g. Hoboken, LGA and WTC), promoting sustainable design, purchasing properties in flood-prone areas and supporting renewable energy.  There are challenges of course. These are:  funding and budgeting; standardized guidance; immediate problems; geographic & operation boundaries; and technology & research.

David Kooris, Michael Marrella, Malcom Bowman, Chris Zeppie & Jake Baker

Jake Baker started with: a bank is an investor not just a lender. The underlying problem in financing is: who is willing to take on the additional risk.   Looking at one example: the effort to retrofit a building or even maybe an airport.  The payback comes from the savings realized.  Rather than subsidies, government has the ability to convene interested people in one room.    NYC local codes can be an excellent mechanism to drive efficiency and market-based solutions.

Many thanks to the panelist for taking the time and to Matt LePere and the Baruch staff for organizing the event.


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