BUILDING ENERGY - Fall 2016 - 26
FEATURE: MULTIFAMILY HOUSING
RESILIENCY FOR AFFORDABLE
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED AND
WHAT WE STILL NEED TO KNOW
BY MARK GINSBERG,
FAIA, LEED AP
y experience with resiliency has
developed through my work, both
before and largely after Hurricane
Sandy (2012), and through my
research and advocacy roles as
a member of several civic non-profits, including
the American Institute of Architects New York
Chapter (AIANY) and Citizens Housing and Planning
Council (CHPC). In 2007 my firm, Curtis + Ginsberg
Architects LLP, designed a multifamily project
which raised the ground floor about 18 inches
above the flood elevation. This was a considerable
amount at that time, but ultimately not enough,
given that we have learned from Sandy. This article
summarizes what I have learned about resiliency
since then, particularly related to flooding and its
impact on multifamily and affordable housing in
New York City (NYC) in the aftermath of Sandy.
Although much progress has been made, much, as
you will see, remains to be done.
A LOOK AT NYC BUILDING AND
ZONING CODES POST-SANDY
My first involvement in the aftermath of
Sandy was at CHPC, where I chaired a committee
reviewing issues of resiliency. We quickly realized
that the NYC Building Code flood elevations
were out-of-date and there were no provisions
for climate change and sea-level rise. The NYC
Zoning Resolution was in much worse shape; the
only resiliency provision was that building height
was measured from base-flood elevation. How
resiliency needs affected the complicated rules of
the Resolution and the real world requirements
of housing and urban design had not been
Our reading of these documents revealed that:
* Flood elevations were 30-years-old, out-of-date,
and did not take into account climate change/
sea-level rise. The good news was that the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
had started working on this several years earlier.
Preliminary maps were released quickly, and NYC
allowed these preliminary maps to be used as a
basis for development of NYC-specific elevations.
FIGURES 1 AND 2. THE AIANY POST-SANDY
HOUSING GROUP DEVELOPED A NUMBER OF
WAYS TO DEAL WITH FLOODING, BUT EACH
STRATEGY PRESENTED NEW CHALLENGES.
COURTESY AIANY POST-SANDY INITIATIVE.
26 * BUILDINGENERGY VOL. 35 NO. 2 | FALL 2016
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