June 23, 2016

by Adria Boynton (MDes R&R 2017)

This summer, I’m working as an intern and a GSD Community Service Fellow at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).  The BRA is a government organization that guides the city’s planning and economic growth. As a Fellow in the Planning Department, I’ll be working on resilience initiatives connected to Waterfront Planning and Climate Ready Boston.

Climate Ready Boston is an initiative that aims to prepare the city for long-term climate change.  Led by the City of Boston’s Office of Environment, Energy, and Open Space, the project has identified flooding as a major environmental threat.  The Climate Ready Boston team conducted an Integrated Vulnerability Assessment that evaluated the impacts of climate change, and is now working on a set of draft Resilience Strategies to inform policies and projects related to climate change adaptation.

My fellowship project will plug in to Climate Ready Boston’s current work.  I am putting together a set of potential strategies for retrofitting existing Boston buildings in flood-prone areas, for consideration by the city, the BRA, and decision-makers.  I will be selecting four case studies that are representative of typical building typologies.  This work will involve decoding the retrofitting guidelines established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). I’ll also be making additional recommendations when NFIP suggestions fall short (for example, in the case of strategies best suited for single-family detached homes, which are sparse in urban settings).  I’ll also be reaching out to other Boston-based agencies and to property owners, to get a sense of best practices related to resilient retrofits.

Part of planning for Boston’s future means planning for its waterfront neighborhoods.  From Eastie to Southie, these areas face a range of climate-related risks, including flooding from heavy rains, storm surges, and sea level rise.  I’m looking forward to addressing these issues in more depth as my work progresses over the course of this summer.