New York City Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines

In April 2018, New York City released new Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines that apply to all City capital projects, aside from coastal protection projects. The guidelines direct planners, engineers, architects, and others involved in project delivery on how to use regionally-specific future climate projections in the design of City facilities.

The guidelines are designed to be used throughout all stages of the project design process, starting with the initiation of capital planning and through final design. They detail how to interpret climate change data on increasing heat, precipitation, and sea-level rise, and how to consider design adjustments needed for resilience. For example, the section describing considerations related to increasing temperature and heat wave projections asks project designers to make adjustments to projects so that the physical components of the project itself will be less vulnerable to increasing heat (e.g., by considering needs for alternate materials and additional backup power), but also so that the project as a whole will help reduce the urban heat island effect (e.g., by integrating cooling features like green roofs). The guidelines also detail how to utilize different benefit-cost analysis methods to ensure cost-effective investments, and contain information about approaches to address uncertainty (e.g., by building in flexibility to implement future adaptations, or using a risk management approach to design for higher projections when the asset is critical or long-lasting).

New York City's Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) prepares and regularly refines projections for the metropolitan NYC region, with the most recent projections (from 2015) reflecting changes in temperature and extreme heat events, precipitation, and sea level rise by the 2050s and the 2080s. These design guidelines are developed using the NPCC projections with the intent that they will be updated as the NPCC projections are refined over time.

The Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) developed the guidelines in collaboration with other city agencies that oversee capital project development. This version (2.0) of the guidelines incorporates feedback and lessons developed during a year-long expert testing and review phase that followed the release of an initial version of the guidelines in April 2017. ORR plans to work with other city agencies to develop an addendum next year that includes information about common asset types and their typical design and useful lives, to further facilitate the use of these resiliency design guidelines.

Publication Date: April 2018

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