New York City has released preliminary guidelines for incorporating projected impacts from climate change into design process of city facilities, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday.

The new resiliency design guidelines are the first of their kind in the United States as they address multiple climate risks across the city’s capital program, which is the largest in the country.

“New York is meeting the challenge of climate change head-on, and in the process we are building a better city,” de Blasio said. “These guidelines are another national first, and will make the city’s buildings and infrastructure more resilient in the face of rising seas, extreme heat and storms.”

The guidelines are to be used throughout the design process -- from the conceptual phase to final design -- for all new construction and substantial improvements of city buildings and infrastructure and will include the planning, engineering, construction, and renovation sectors.

The guidelines provide architects, engineers, planners, and other professionals with step-by-step instructions on how to incorporate anticipated changes in temperature, precipitation, and sea levels into the design of city facilities, based on the best available science provided by the city’s panel on climate change.

The guidelines were developed based on the panel on climate change’s regional climate projections that inform city resiliency policy.

The Flood Hazard Mapper with high tide in the 2020s (left) and in the 2080s (right) at nyc.gov/floodhazardmapper.
The Flood Hazard Mapper with high tide in the 2020s (left) and in the 2080s (right) at nyc.gov/floodhazardmapper.

Climate projections encompass a wide range of possible outcomes: Mean annual temperature is projected to increase between 4.1 and 6.6°F by the 2050s and between 5.3 and 10.3°F by the 2080s; frequency of heat waves is projected to triple by the 2050s to five to seven heat waves per year; mean annual precipitation is projected to increase between 4% and 13% by the 2050s and between 5% and 19% by the 2080s; and sea level is expected to continue rising by 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s and by 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s, on top of the 1 foot of rise already measured since 1900.

“The guidelines are a critical step towards integrating resiliency as a core principle in the design of city buildings and infrastructure by providing standard policy framework for incorporating forward-looking climate data into design, ultimately saving money by planning for future risks,” according to the mayor’s office.

The city will review the preliminary guidelines on projects throughout the rest of the year and the results will be used to refine the preliminary draft and a final version will be released in December.

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Chip Barnett

Chip Barnett

Chip Barnett is a journalist with more than 40 years of experience. Barnett is currently Senior Market Reporter for The Bond Buyer.