NAIOP Massachusetts Update
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Climate Change Resiliency & The Future of Development
At an April NAIOP event, Climate Change Resiliency & The Future of Development, local experts from organizations in Boston addressed the situation and offered insight into what the future may hold.
As the development boom continues, climate change is affecting the way projects are designed and built. Regulators at all levels of government are considering how laws and policies should address the changing climate.
Both the public and the private sectors are both greatly impacted by these changes as they continue to occur at an increasing rate. The BPDA is continually making efforts to ensure preparation for the present and future of Boston.
One main focus right now is to reduce the impact the city has on Greenhouse Gases. According to the office of the Mayor, “reducing greenhouse gas emissions is critical to avoiding more extreme climate change conditions.” The Mayor has set a goal for Boston to be Carbon neutral by 2050. The city is focusing on new building projects that employ an integrated planning and design approach to maximize building efficiency and include onsite clean and renewable energy solutions to ensure the constructed building has minimized greenhouse gas emissions. Moving forward, projects should use the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Protocol when calculating greenhouse gas emissions.
Additionally, extreme heat is an issue contributing to the rising sea levels. The BPDA reports that the annual average temperature has increased by about 2 degrees in the past 100 years and will continue to rise. The average annual temperature could also rise from the current 46 degrees to 56 degrees. According to Chris Busch of the BPDA, the number of days above 90 degrees (currently averaging 10 a year) could rise up to 90 per year.
The BPDA added, that future project planning should identify future strategies for adapting to higher annual temperatures and more extreme heat waves including both building envelope and mechanical systems.
The other major concern regarding climate change is the rise of sea-level and extreme precipitation events. The BPDA reports that from 1958-2010 there has been a 70% increase in the amount of precipitation that fell on the days with the heaviest precipitation.
The Boston Research Advisory Group reports that under a medium emissions scenario, there is a 5% probability that sea levels will rise higher than 3 feet by 2070 and a 65% probability that they will rise to that amount by 2100.
According to David Wilkinson of Tishman-Speyer, there are actions that buildings can take to mitigate the problems associated with rising sea levels. New technology such as an aqua fence can be deployed prior to a flood to prevent damage to structures. Additionally, mechanicals of buildings can be elevated to upper level floors to avoid any other serious issues in the case of a flood.
Although we are already feeling the effects of global warming, as a city, an effort can be made to minimize the impacts of the damage that has already begun. Boston will lead the nation in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and safeguarding the commonwealth from the impacts of climate change. With an environmental bond bill of $1.4 billion focused on building climate change resiliency, Boston will lead the country into the future of green building and energy efficiency.