New York City Task Force Convened to Respond to Superstorm Sandy

Posted by on Dec 23, 2012

Seawater pouring into the Ground Zero construction site on October 29th. Photo: John Minchillo, AP

Superstorm Sandy took a major toll on New York City, but if a newly created task force succeeds, the impact of future such events should be lessened.

At the request of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Urban Green Council (New York City’s chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council) has convened a special Building Resiliency Task Force to take an in-depth look at how to better prepare the city’s buildings for future storms and infrastructure failures.

The Task Force is comprised of four committees and three working groups. The committees are Commercial Buildings, Critical Buildings, Residential Buildings (focused on multifamily), and Homes (single-family, duplex, and triplex). The three working groups will address: Structure, Façade and Interiors; Electrical and IT; and HVARC, Plumbing, and Fire Protection. To date 137 people have been named to the Task Force, most from the New York City real estate community, along with architects and engineers.

Following a kick-off meeting last week (December 19th), each of these committees and working groups will meet from January through the spring to develop specific recommendations on boosting the resilience of the City’s hundreds of thousands of buildings.

The Resilient Design Institute will play a part in this initiative, as I’ve been invited to serve as an at-large member of the Task Force. That designation gives me the freedom to follow the discussions of these various committees, contributing where appropriate and participating in meetings when I’m able to get down to the City.

Work will begin work immediately, with a plan to release recommendations in the summer of 2013. Already, draft measures are emerging in these committees and working groups.

I’m looking forward to participating in the Task Force. While I participated in the Climate Adaptation Technical Committee of the New York City Green Codes Task Force in 2008-09, the proposals I offered on “passive survivability” were a little to radical to make it into the final report, except as a recommendation for research. I believe that following Sandy, policy makers will be far more willing to embrace some of these ideas.

Along with founding the Resilient Design Institute in 2012, Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed.

One Comment

  1. I’m glad to know there will be folks like you at the table forcing decision-makers to look beyond improving the wind speed design considerations for glass skinned buildings. It is a shame that it takes a tragedy like Sandy to nudge them into becoming “more willing to embrace some of these ideas.” Especially when so many harsh realities have been staring us in the face for years if not decades and ample warning has been raised via your previous “passive survivability” recommendations among a sea of other voices. Best of luck in helping them see the light this time around. I look forward to your GreenDrinks NYC SPARK talk on January 22nd. For anyone else interested in that talk:


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