WEDG (Waterfront Edge Design Guidelines)

A program of the Waterfront Alliance, WEDG is a tool for use prior to and during the design process of waterfront projects. Created for professionals, communities, and landowners, the tool is a credit system and series of guidelines to develop and enhance coastal projects on a voluntary basis. The guidelines support decision making for development that is resilient to the coastal impacts of climate change, enhances ecological protections, and provides equitable public access.

WEDG provides guidance for individual projects as well as neighborhoods or larger-scale community efforts. Professionals may wish to undertake the WEDG certification process for a particular project, or community members may use it to seek opportunities for collaboration. WEDG leads users through a series of considerations that enable design teams to tailor solutions to their project and context through a variety of waterfront uses (e.g. industrial maritime, public parks).

WEDG utilizes an evidence-based system of credits based on three key pillars of excellent waterfront design:

Resilience: Reduce risks or adapt to sea level rise and storm flooding through setbacks, structural protection, and other integrative landscaping measures.

Ecology: Protect existing aquatic habitats and use designs, materials, and shoreline configurations to improve the ecological function of the coastal zone, and strive to be consistent with regional ecological goals.

Access: Be equitable and informed by the community, enhancing public access, supporting a diversity of uses, from maritime, recreation, and commerce where appropriate, thereby maximizing the diversity of the harbor and waterfront.

WEDG establishes a process for certification of a project’s performance relative to these pillars of resilience, access, and ecology. A diverse suite of design options for a wide variety of projects are included and the credit system helps to guide the design process, and provide design performance goals in the following six Categories:

0: Site Assessment & Planning

1: Responsible Siting & Coastal Risk Reduction

2: Community Access & Connections

3: Edge Resilience

4: Natural Resources

5: Innovation

WEDG certification is based on a point rating system. For example, Category 1: Responsible Siting & Coastal Risk Reduction offers a total of 40 possible points for the use of “responsible development strategies for project siting and resilience that account for climate change and flood risks.” Numerous recommendations or adaptive measures are delineated to achieve these credits under the broader strategies of:

1.1 Avoid or reduce risk from coastal hazards

1.2 Site with ecological sensitivity

1.3 Site or design structures to improve visual and other sensory connections to the water

1.4 Support industrial water-dependent uses

1.5 Provide an emergency preparedness and response plan

Existing WEDG certified projects are profiled on the website, which are primarily in the New York City waterfront area. For example the Soundview project in Bronx, New York is described: Working with Bronx Community Board 9, the Waterfront Alliance used WEDG to engage waterfront landowners, community members, and create a Waterfront Action Plan for a peninsula in the east Bronx. The CB9 Waterfront Action Plan is linked. 


Publication Date: March 2018

Related Organizations:

  • Waterfront Alliance


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Best practice
  • Tool (general)

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