Washington DC, USA skyline on the Potomac River with Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Arlington Memorial Bridge

D.C. City-Wide Plan Addresses Flooding and Other Threats

  May 13, 2019

By Dan Hounsell

The process of planning and preparing for natural disasters is complex, costly and time-consuming for institutional and commercial facilities. The process must take into account not just building systems and components but also activities, operations, suppliers and occupants. Now imagine the challenge of expanding that process to include an entire major U.S. city.

Washington, D.C., is doing just that. City officials recently announced a goal of retrofitting or removing all of its flood-prone buildings by 2050, the first major U.S. city to set such a policy, according to Bloomberg.

The proposal is part of a broader plan to protect the city, which is home to 700,000 people and the headquarters of most federal agencies, from climate change and other threats. That plan, called Resilient DC, sets a range of goals for coping with increasingly severe floods and heat waves, the major climate stresses projected for the city, which sits at the junction of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers.

The plan would apply to all buildings, including homes, businesses and hospitals. The district says it also wants to include federal government buildings, though it has limited authority over them. The proposal envisions “a mix of regulations, incentives and outreach” to address each building.

The initiative comes as cities around the country face a growing toll from climate change. The Congressional Budget Office recently projected that hurricanes and storms will consume 0.3 percent of the nation’s GDP, while bond rating companies warn that ignoring extreme weather will hurt cities’ credit ratings. In response, cities are looking at everything from new types of private disaster insurance to gigantic coastal-protection projects.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.



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