Urban group prioritizes principles for building resilient population centers

Sources: Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C.; CP staff

A new Urban Land Institute Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance report proposes fundamentals for resilient cities and regions to anticipate, respond to, and recover from immediate shocks such as hurricanes and other extreme weather events, plus long-term stresses such as sea-level rise and declining population.

Ten Principles for Building Resilience offers guidelines for city and regional leaders as well as real estate and land use professionals to design, plan, and build communities and infrastructure in ways that address vulnerabilities related to threats to prosperity and well-being. It advances the idea that resilience is a foundational characteristic of vibrant and healthy communities, citing examples and insights drawn from ULI’s extensive work with local decision-makers and community leaders in disparate locations across the United States.

The principles include Understand vulnerabilities; Redefine how and where to build; Build the business case; Accurately price the cost of inaction; Design with natural systems; and, Harness innovation and technology. “These principles and their supporting, specific strategies empower decision-makers to integrate resilience into all aspects of community building,” says ULI Global Chairman and University of Pennsylvania Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Marilyn Jordan Taylor. “From adequately pricing the cost of risk and inaction, to investing in green infrastructure that creates multiple benefits, to harnessing the power of innovative technologies to respond to crises and recover, this report provides a playbook for communities on the path to becoming more resilient.”

A key theme in the report is the critical role of the private real estate sector in transforming the market and leveraging greater investments towards more resilient design, buildings, and infrastructure. “The concept of the business case—the proof of return on the individual and collective investment—is a powerful tool to guide decision-making and assemble the resources to rebuild homes, businesses, and infrastructures of water, transport, and communications upon which the well-being of communities relies,” Taylor affirms.

In addition, the report emphasizes a definition of resilience that goes beyond fortifying hard infrastructure and physical assets. Critical to building resilience are efforts to strengthen local housing markets, the workforce, and social networks as well as taking an equitable approach to resilience investments so that under-resourced neighborhoods have a fair shot at bouncing back after adverse events. Ten Principles of Building Resilience is posted here.