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New York Community Risk and Resiliency Act Implementation Guidance

November 4, 2020

In November 2020, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a series of four guidance documents to implement part of the New York Community Risk and Resiliency Act (CRRA), as amended by the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CRRA requires that state agencies consider future climate impacts as a part of certain planning, permitting, and funding actions. The CRRA also requires that the DEC issue guidance for state agencies and other audiences to implement the CRRA. In accordance with that requirement, DEC issued four guidance documents: (1) Using Natural Measures to Reduce the Risk of Flooding and Erosion, which describes natural resilience measures and their uses for reducing risks associated with erosion and flooding; (2) New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance, which presents recommendations to state agencies on considering flood risk in planning and project implementation; (3) a guide on Estimating Guideline Elevations, which presents the principles introduced in the New York State Flood Risk Management Guidance to assist planners, engineers, designers, and architects in flood mitigation project design; and (4) Guidance for Smart Growth Public Infrastructure Assessment, which provides general principles of climate risk mitigation that state agencies should follow when undertaking "smart growth assessments" required by the CRRA and other state statutes. While these guidance documents were developed by DEC to facilitate implementation of the New York Community Risk and Resiliency Act, much of the information presented is applicable to other jurisdictions that seek to manage floodplains in accordance with climate risks.

Related Organizations: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Resource Category: Law and Governance

 

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New York State Resilient NY Flood Mitigation Studies, Buyouts, and Floodplain Restoration Projects

2018

Multiple serious flood events, hurricanes, and storms have prompted New York State’s (NYS) Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to develop a range of mitigation and adaptation initiatives to address future flood hazards and improve community resilience. The state is completing a series of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies within 48 high-priority watersheds across New York State - as a part of an initiative called Resilient NY - to identify the causes of flooding and ice jams and to evaluate priority mitigation projects, like buyouts, to reduce risks. New York’s example is noteworthy for selecting buyouts as part of a comprehensive flood-risk mitigation analysis as a result of Flood and Ice Jam Mitigation Studies, compared to other buyout programs that utilize standalone eligibility criteria based on existing floodplain maps (e.g., a property is eligible for buyouts based on flood zones). Where buyouts are identified as a priority option to mitigate future flood risk, DEC can work with local governments through a unique partnership to remove structures from vulnerable areas and restore floodplains. Specifically, the state can oversee and provide support for locally led and administered buyout programs that can be applied across the state’s watersheds. This data-driven, state-local approach to buyouts can serve as a model for other jurisdictions considering buyouts and floodplain restoration as managed retreat strategies at the community level that would benefit from statewide consistency, assistance, and resources.

Related Organizations: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Staten Island, New York: Oakwood Beach Buyout Committee and Program

July 15, 2020

Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Oakwood Beach on Staten Island in New York City became the first community to take advantage of New York State’s post-Sandy buyout program to plan for retreat in a model that could be replicated in other vulnerable coastal locations. The members of the small community formed the Oakwood Beach Buyout Committee, and petitioned the state government to buy out entire neighborhoods, which resulted in large-scale risk reduction and cost-saving benefits compared to individual buyouts. Less than three months after Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a state-funded buyout program, pledging upwards of $200 million in funding and financial incentives to relocate families in high flood risk areas in places like Oakwood Beach. One year later, 184 out of 185 homeowners applied to the program — and by 2015, 180 of those homeowners were accepted to participate in the state’s voluntary buyout program. This process can serve as an example of a successful, community-led voluntary buyout effort that can be supported by state and local government retreat programs or projects in other jurisdictions. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Queens, New York: Resilient Edgemere Community Plan

July 15, 2020

After Hurricane Sandy, New York City (NYC) engaged in a community-driven planning process and implemented multiple voluntary relocation projects in the Edgemere neighborhood of Queens to reduce flood risks and move people out of harm’s way after Hurricane Sandy. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) launched the Resilient Edgemere Community Planning Initiative in October 2015 as a collaboration between city agencies, community members, elected officials, and local organizations. The Resilient Edgemere Community Plan lays out a long-term vision for achieving a more resilient neighborhood with improved housing, transportation access, and neighborhood amenities. One of the 65 distinct projects included in the plan was a “land swap” pilot project to provide buyout and relocation assistance to residents within a “Hazard Mitigation Zone” (HMZ), an area of Edgemere at risk of destructive wave action during storms. Through the land swap pilot project, Edgemere residents within a HMZ were eligible to receive a newly built, elevated home on safer ground. In exchange, residents would transfer title of their damaged, original homes to the city. The plan is notable for being developed through an 18-month public engagement process that placed residents, who best understand their community, at the center of an open and transparent neighborhood planning process. Resilient Edgemere can provide an example of how local governments can transition affected residents away from vulnerable areas by helping people relocate nearby and simultaneously build community resilience and help to maintain community cohesion and local tax bases. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — New York City, New York: Land Acquisition and Flood Buyout Programs

July 15, 2020

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) offers flood mitigation buyouts within the NYC watershed, in cooperation with the state, through a Flood Buyout Program that can serve as a model for other coastal and riverine jurisdictions considering retreat. These buyouts are part of a comprehensive flood hazard mitigation program that relies on scientific studies termed Local Flood Analyses (LFA). LFA enable NYC DEP to identify solutions to reduce flooding, which may involve buyouts, and then to fund and implement recommended projects. NYC DEP’s buyouts are primarily funded by local sewer and water bills and may be supplemented by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Notably, NYC DEP administers a Land Acquisition Program — in addition to its Flood Buyout Program — with a focus on conserving land within the NYC watershed to protect water quality. This dual approach to both buyouts to mitigate flood risk and open space acquisitions to enhance water quality is a unique model that other state and local governments can replicate to achieve co-benefits through land acquisitions. Collectively, NYC’s multiple programs and projects can provide an example for other land-use planners and decisionmakers on how managed retreat through buyouts can be supported through a science-based, comprehensive approach that aims to maximize floodplain hazard mitigation and community resilience. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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New York State (NYSERDA) Clean Energy Workforce Development Program

New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) developed the Clean Energy Workforce Development Program, committing more than $100 million through 2025 to converting the State’s workforce to a cleaner, more resilient future. Working with partners across the State - including small businesses, local governments, frontline community leaders, and more - NYSERDA is focusing on funding five programs in the clean energy sector, including: (1) training in energy efficiency and clean technology; (2) on the job/site training; (3) providing internships to young adults; (4) offering training on building operations and maintenance; and (5) funding contractors that provide clean energy training.

Related Organizations: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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New York City, ConEd Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative

The Storm Hardening and Resiliency Joint Agreement demonstrates how community-based organizations can advocate for investments in grid resilience and ensure that investments are made without significant rate increases for low-income customers. Vulnerabilities and inequities in energy infrastructure were exposed following Superstorm Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which caused significant impacts to New York City’s (NYC) energy system. To protect customers, the region, and energy systems from future natural disasters, Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ConEd) proposed a $1 billion capital investment for years 2013 through 2016 to mitigate impacts of future extreme weather, protect infrastructure, harden energy system components, and facilitate restoration. The utility organized a “Resiliency Collaborative” process to decide on how funds will be spent in their rate application filing. A collaboration of 12 parties including ConEd, NYC agency officials, and nonprofit and academic stakeholders resulted in a Joint Agreement between state Public Service Commission (PSC), ConEd, and other collaborative parties that froze electric rates for two years and required $1 billion in investment in storm hardening and resiliency. The multi-year rate plans ensure that delivery rates will not increase until after the rate plans have ended. The plan also offers rate mitigation for customers while assuring continued safe and reliable service. The agreement also provides for the expansion of the ConEd low-income discount programs to ConEd’s electric and gas businesses for the benefit of low income customers.

Related Organizations: City of New York, New York, Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ConEd)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Designing new models of energy distribution: Hunts Point Community Microgrid, New York City

The Hunts Point Microgrid Project is an initiative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), designed to protect important citywide infrastructure during emergencies that threaten energy distribution and to address critical vulnerabilities for both community and industry. The project integrates energy technologies that minimize power disruption in times of extreme weather in an area that serves as a major food-supply hub located in the Bronx, New York City. Hunts Point was identified as a priority area for climate resilience initiatives after Hurricane Sandy, as the potential impacts of the storm exposed the importance and vulnerability of the food systems infrastructure in the region. The project studied the feasibility of a district cogeneration facility to provide electricity, steam, and refrigeration to local food markets, nearby businesses, and the residential community facilities in the area. In addition to its vulnerability to climate impacts, the Bronx has socioeconomically vulnerable residents - the average household income in the borough is 40% lower than the city average and 34% lower than the national average. The South Bronx, where Hunts Point is located, is 57.1% Hispanic and 39.8% Black. The South Bronx neighborhood is also home to a major wholesale food cooperative located at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, as well as 12,300 residents and one of the City’s larger wastewater treatment plants.

Related Organizations: New York City Economic Development Corporation, New York City Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Rise to Resilience - Our Communities Our Future: Policies and Investments for a Climate-Resilient New York and New Jersey

July 2020

The Rise to Resilience Report (R2R), developed in May 2020 by the Waterfront Alliance, provides “actionable recommendations” for policymakers at federal, state, and local levels to create more flood-resilient communities in New York and New Jersey in a transparent and equitable manner. The report establishes a vision for a climate-resilient New York and New Jersey: “A resilient future is well-managed and funded in a manner that is transparent, just and green.”

Related Organizations: Waterfront Alliance

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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New York City COVID-19 Heat Wave Plan

May 15, 2020

In May of 2020, New York City (NYC)’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID-19 Heat Wave Plan to keep vulnerable New Yorkers cool at home, create safer summer cooling options, and anticipate and reduce power outages. The plan addresses the higher risk for indoor summer heat exposure that vulnerable residents face while simultaneously trying to maintain social distancing in the context of a global pandemic. The $55 million plan directs the City to install 74,000 air conditioning units in the homes of residents who are 60 years of age or older, retrofit new spaces for emergency cooling centers, and better prepare for power outages. The plan lessens risk for vulnerable NYC residents of heat-related illnesses and death, as well as COVID exposure or infection. NYC recognizes the intrinsic connection with climate change, social equity, and COVID-19 recovery, and is committed to protecting the most vulnerable from climate impacts like extreme heat.   

 

Related Organizations: City of New York, New York, New York City Housing Authority, New York State Public Service Commission

Resource Category: Planning

 

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