NYC Building Resiliency Task Force Releases Recommendations

July 2, 2013

The New York City Building Resiliency Task Force recently released its recommendations to improve the resiliency of the City’s commercial buildings, hospitals, multifamily residences, and smaller homes.

The Task Force was convened by the Urban Green Council at the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and was composed of over 200 technical experts including architects, engineers, property managers, utility representatives, and city officials.

The report presents 33 specific proposals for improving the resiliency of City buildings through innovative design and construction techniques.  Uniquely, the report addresses implementation. For each proposal, the report recommends how the proposal should be implemented: by requiring upgrades to existing structures, by adopting new codes that would apply to new construction or at retrofit, by removing legal barriers in existing codes, through voluntary incentive-based measures, and proposals that would require further action.

For example, the report recommends additional resiliency requirements for new commercial and multifamily residential buildings such as elevating systems and equipment; providing lighting in hallways and stairwells during extended blackouts; and ensuring that toilets and faucets are able to operate without power. For certain critical resiliency measures, such as safeguarding toxic materials in flood zones or supplying drinking water without power in residential buildings, the Task Force proposes that the City require upgrades to existing buildings. The report also includes a number of proposals for removing barriers to resiliency. For example, the report recommends that the City provide zoning relief to allow buildings to be elevated above height restrictions or to allow building owners to install temporary flood barriers on sidewalks. Finally, some proposals are recommended as voluntary practices that the City or individual building owners may choose to take, such as capturing stormwater through re-designed sidewalks or enhancing water reserves by encouraging building owners to maintain or consider using water towers.

The Task Force coordinated its efforts with the NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, which recently published its recommendations for improving the resiliency of New York City’s infrastructure, buildings, and communities.