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Planning and Building for Coastal Resilience

On August 8th and August 16th in Portland, Maine, and Stamford, Connecticut respectively, Isabel Kaubisch, Project Manager in Nitsch Engineering’s Planning Department, presented “Planning and Building for Coastal Resilience” together with Dave Hampton of re:ground, organized through Halfmoon Seminars.

The 8-hour seminar, “Planning & Building for Coastal Resilience,” was aimed at equipping participants with a broader and diverse toolset for understanding hazards and approaching coastal resilience planning. They reviewed comprehensive toolsets to allow participants to make the best-informed decisions when advising their clients on planning or building in coastal areas at a building, site, and community scale. Up to 20 engineers, architects, and planners participated in each seminar.

Identifying and Adapting to Climate Change

What is coastal? What is resilience? And what does it mean when the two come together?

The seminar defined coastal resilience as “the capacity to anticipate, respond to, and recover from climate change-induced stressors.” Examples of these stressors included sea-level rise, flooding, storm surge, coastal erosion, and extreme weather events. Resilience was described as an approach to both mitigate (reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and adapt to climate change through developing and applying climate adaptation measures.

Engaging Cities and Towns in Resilience

Where can Cities and Towns begin when it comes to developing fitting strategies for mitigation of climate change impacts?

The process begins with reviewing local and state regulations and programs for coastal areas.

Participants were taught to identify climate hazards for coastlines and coastal construction using climate resiliency checklists and frameworks, choosing from a set of resilient solutions. Suggested solutions included management techniques at the building, site, and community scale. Isabel and Dave supported these solutions with information on grants and funding programs, including providing examples of communities assisted through the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program and similar programs.

The seminar also covered the topic of blue-green, hybrid, and gray coastal infrastructure. Blue-green and hybrid infrastructure provide multiple benefits as flooding and heat issues are addressed, at the same time adding to improved air quality, and beautification and placemaking opportunities. Examples of this type of infrastructure include beach restoration, coastal banks, living shorelines, constructed wetlands, and living breakwaters among many others.

Putting Coastal Resilience into Practice

The seminar was centered on providing practical approaches and interactive activities to prompt participants to choose from solutions that work best for their clients. The examples allowed participants to “jump through” different scales from building, site, to community scales. Furthermore, Isabel and Dave shared best practices and engagement techniques & methods to work with municipalities on coastal resilience solutions. The seminar ended with two exercises that targeted participants to develop collaborative solutions for site-specific issues to put the lessons learned into practice.

Would you like to know more about planning and building for coastal resilience? You can contact Isabel Kaubisch, Project Manager, at ikaubisch@nitscheng.com.