Climate Change

Resiliency takes center stage in new projects around the country

Projects like these, where resilience is central to their design and construction, are becoming more commonplace.

Written by: John Caulfield
View the original article here.

Resiliency

Perkins+Will has written the design controls for the redevelopment of a 28-acre surface parking lot in San Francisco into a mixed-use waterfront community called Mission Rock, which would have a mesa running through it to handle sea levels that are projected to rise as high as 66 inches by 2100, compared to 24 inches today. Courtesy Perkins+Will.

On July 28, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection awarded AECOM and a team that includes OMA, Magnusson Klemencic Associates, and Matrix New World Engineering the final design contract for a resilience project along the Hudson River. The primary goal is to reduce flooding in Hoboken, which has 2.3 miles of coastal exposure, and parts of Weehawken and Jersey City.

The approach of this project, which HUD awarded $230 million through its Rebuild by Design contest, has four integrated resilience components:

  • Resist, through a combination of hard infrastructure like bulkheads and floodwalls, and soft landscaping like berms that might double as parks.
  • Delay, through policy changes and infrastructure that slow stormwater runoff.
  • Store, with green and gray infrastructure improvements, such as bioretention basins and swales, to capture stormwater.
  • Discharge, by enhancing stormwater management systems and upgrading infrastructure such as sewer lines.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which is working on a separate project to redevelop Hoboken’s Terminal and Rail Yard into a mixed-use transit-oriented community with more than $100 million in improvements, is coordinating its efforts with the Rebuild by Design team, whose study area encompasses the terminal/rail yard.

Projects like these, where resilience is central to their design and construction, are becoming more commonplace, as developers and their AEC teams adopt positive measures to give their property assets a fighting chance of surviving the ravages of natural disasters, and to minimize recovery costs.

The replacement Ocosta Elementary School in Westport, Wash., which opened in the fall of 2016, offers a safe haven of refuge to students and residents who would have less than 30 minutes to evacuate in the event of a tsunami. The 23-classroom school includes the first vertical shelter in North America, a rooftop evacuation platform 53 feet above sea level that’s accessible via four flanking stair towers enclosed in concrete.

The platform, which is anchored by concrete piles that extend 55 feet into the ground, can hold more than 1,000 people and withstand a 9.2-magnitude earthquake and the impact of incoming waves. Resilience accounted for $2 million of the school’s $16 million project cost.

Three-thousand miles to the east, a seven-acre site with 1,700 lineal feet of shoreline along East Boston’s waterfront is being transformed into Clippership Wharf, a mixed-used development that will have 478 apartment units on two finger piers. Owner/developer Lendlease took over this project from a previous developer that had planned for lots of surface and underground parking. “That’s just not right for this day and age,” says Nick Iselin, Leadlease’s General Manager of Development. Lendlease rewrote the plan with several resilience measures, including replacing old seawalls that had been part of the site’s industrial infrastructure.

Lendlease is converting one of the piers into a “living shoreline” by creating a series of terraces for new salt marshes and a habitat for Boston Harbor, which is subject to a 10-foot tidal influence. The first floor of each building will be 24 feet above Boston City Base. All infrastructure and mechanical systems will be located above the 100-year flood level. Garage levels will be flood resistant.

To meet Boston’s “Living with Water” ordinance, Lendlease created a 1,400-foot Harbor Walk that will be 14-16 feet above the water level. In all, Clippership Wharf will have 189,830 sf of open space.

Back on the West Coast, there’s a 28-acre parking lot south of AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants play, that is subject to sea levels that vary as much as 24 inches. Predictions estimate those levels could rise to 66 inches by 2100.

“We needed to manage that risk,” says Kristen Hall, LEED AP, Senior Urban Designer with Perkins+Will, which has written the design controls for the proposed mixed-used redevelopment of this waterfront site, called Mission Rock. Eventually, it will encompass 11 city blocks and include eight acres of parkland, 1,500 rental units, and a million sf of office space. The Giants and the Port of San Francisco are co-developers.

The design, Hall explains, calls for the creation of a mesa down the middle of the site, with minimal frontages that may flood. She calls these frontages the site’s “sacrificial edges.” Other edges will include loading docks that create redundant elevated building access, as the majority of Mission Rock’s buildings would be at higher elevations. The park area would use a series of grade changes as design features, such as an amphitheater, a sloped lawn, steps, and ramps.

In July, the first phase of the Cornell Tech applied science campus was completed on Roosevelt Island in New York City’s East River. That phase includes The House, a residential complex with 350 apartments for staff and faculty, and Bloomberg Center, a four-story, academic building.

The buildout of this 12.4-acre, $2 billion campus is expected to proceed through 2043 and expand to two million sf. SOM, in collaboration with Cornell University and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, is the project’s master planner. Resilience is key to protecting this property.

Colin Koop, AIA, SOM’s Design Director, explains that the East River is a tidal estuary, and significant portions of the site lie within 100- and 500-year floodplains. So all of the architecture needs to be elevated. The main pedestrian walkway, called Techwalk, will allow people to enter the campus at its periphery and then rise gently through its open spaces at a slope that is largely imperceptible. Once they reach the central ridge, they would be surrounded by permeable façades “that help create a synergy between inside and outside spaces on campus,” he says.

Cornell, says Koop, has been a “sophisticated client that is grappling with realities larger than itself and this project.”

Many in the Faith Community are taking action to become Sustainable – is yours?

 

PJ PictureBy: Paul L. Jones, CPA
LEED Green Associate
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

 

 

churchHow do you approach your decisions — by thinking primarily of yourself? Or do you consider how your actions will affect the beliefs and lives of others? Some Christians never stop to think that their choices can hurt or destroy someone else’s faith. They justify their behavior, saying God doesn’t convict them for it.

Paul blames the “stronger” Christian for these shipwrecks. He says we’re responsible not only for our actions, but also for the effect of those actions. In the end, we are to care more about the “brother for whose sake Christ died” than about our own wants or desires (1 Corinthians 8:11).

Because our faith is on display before the world, God promises rewards but insists on responsibility. One of the rewards is freedom from condemnation. But that freedom doesn’t mean license to do as we please without considering those who watch our example. Through the Spirit, we must discern the greater good and act on it.

As St. Paul’s teaching relates to climate change and sustainability, Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant, advises, “How we take care of creation will dictate how we care for one another and vice-versa. The Catholic approach holds that we are concerned about both God’s good gift of creation and the impacts of environmental degradation on people, especially those most vulnerable: the poor at home and abroad. As Pope Francis said in Laudato si; “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.’ For Catholics, this is not just about saving the polar bear but also saving ourselves from our own destructive habits.” (From “The Faith Community and Climate Change, A Q&A with Dan Misleh” by John Gehring, Commonweal, April 27, 2017)

In answer to the question, “Are Catholic bishops and clergy rallying behind the Pope’s message or has it been a cautious reception?”; Mr. Misleh replied:

“I think many are embracing the challenges of Laudato si.’ I’m encouraged by the leadership of Catholic leaders like Archbishop Dennis Schnurr in Cincinnati, who is supporting our Catholic Covenant Energies program, in which we bring our education and energy efficiency expertise along with financing to help parishes and schools reduce their energy use, save money and take advantage of the opportunity to educate parishioners, students, and parents about the importance of caring for creation and caring for the poor. I also think of Cardinals Cupich (Chicago), O’Malley (Boston), and Dolan (New York), who have benchmarked all archdiocesan buildings, begun solar installations, and systematically enrolled parishes in energy-efficiency programs.”

Also of note, “during this Year of Creation (2017) — unique to the Diocese of Burlington — Catholics throughout Vermont are encouraged to reflect upon the pope’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” and to discover Christ in all living things. From the red clover to the hermit thrush to the Green Mountains, all these gifts that surround us bear the stamp of God and are entrusted to our care, not only for personal benefit but the benefit of all those who share our common home and all those who will inhabit it after us.” (Vermont Catholic, Spring 2017)

The Church of England has created “ChurchCare,” a comprehensive source of information for everyone managing a church building in support of all those in parishes, dioceses and cathedrals caring for their buildings today and for the enjoyment of future generations.” It’s national environmental campaign exists to enable the whole Church to address – in faith, practice and mission – the issue of climate change. As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is quoted: “Actions have to change for words to have effect.” (See www.churchcare.co.uk)

In another example of faith in action, the Florida East Coast Baptist Association has promoted “Green the Church” to amplify green theology, promote sustainable practices in the member churches and increase the power and potential of the national climate movement.

Although not all churches and dioceses are responding with the same level of commitment, the call to putting faith in action is being heard and answered by many:

  • In addition to evaluating all of the buildings for water use, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, the Archdiocese of Chicago has done a significant amount of work in making its buildings energy efficient. St. Joseph College Seminary, for example, has high-efficiency lighting control and heating systems and is LEED Gold certified.  The field operations center for Resurrection Cemetery has been heated with a solar system since 1978. The rooftop solar system deployed at Old St. Mary’s School generates an average 40 percent of the building’s energy needs during the summer months.
  • As part of the effort to adapt St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York to the structural and environmental standards required of the 21st century, the building has been integrated with a state-of-the-art geothermal plant. The new plant allows the cathedral and adjoining buildings which total 76,000 square feet to regulate temperature with increased efficiency and a reduction in CO2 emissions. The Cathedral’s new plant is capable of generating 2.9 million BTU’s per hour of air conditioning and 3.2 million BTU’s per hour of heating when fully activated. Richard A. Sileo, Senior Engineer with Landmark Facilities Group, a member of the design team, says in a release: “We conducted a feasibility study and found that a geothermal system let us meet our goals with the smallest impact.”
  • At a more grass roots level, The Record, Archdiocesan news for Central Kentucky Louisville) reports on green practices of parishes and faith communities its September 21st, 2017 issue highlighted in an educational and inspirational event held on September 12th entitled “Caring for Creation: Stories of Success from Several Faith Communities:”
  • The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (Kentucky) said during the event that they have made significant strides in developing and implementing green initiatives sincethey added a commitment to care for creation to their mission statement in the mid-1990s. The statement reads in part: “Sisters and Associates are committed to work for justice in solidarity with oppressed peoples, especially the economically poor and women, and to care for the earth.”
  • The Congregation of nuns has committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2037.
  • They have also committed to becoming a “zero waste campus,” meaning that everything is either compostable or recyclable and nothing is sent to a landfill. They are already performing “waste audits” to determine how to eliminate waste.
  • Francis of Assisi parish has created an Ecological Stewardship committee that has held educational presentations on ecological sustainability, encouraged recycling and reusing cups, instead of foam cups, at parish events (which infuses a sustainable mindset among parishioners); and provided funds to convert lights at its homeless shelter from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lights and is currently working to switch to LED lighting.
  • The parish cluster of St. James and St. Brigid reported at the Sept. 12 event that parishioners created a Creation Care Team last year under the guidance of the Catholic Climate Covenant.
  • The Creation Care Team has focused on decreasing overall energy usage, expanding recycling and supporting the St. James School Green Club, which tends anorganic vegetable and pollinator garden on campus, said Cynthia Dumas, one of the members of the Creation Care Team.
  • The parish bulletin also includes weekly articles on environmental issues and updates about what the care team is doing, Dumas said.

Whether it is at the direction of the archbishop, bishop or other Church leadership, or from the motivation of parishioners seeking to bring sustainability to their faith community, every action that puts into practice the Pope’s teachings on the care of creation contributes to making the world a better place for all. As the mission outreach and communication coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington envisions: “If the Diocese of Burlington’s Year of Creation is successful in raising awareness of and action toward ecological justice, it can serve as an encouraging example for other Catholic dioceses and communities of faith throughout the country and the globe. There are an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics on Earth — just think of what could be achieved if we committed to caring for the created world together.”

Then, as all faiths and faith communities grow in awareness and begins to truly adopt sustainable practices – not just at the parish, but also in the home, at work or school, and make it a priority in our politics – we can change, and quite possibly, save the world.

Faith-based organizations that help religious communities become sustainable include: Catholic Climate Covenant, Florida East Coast Green Union, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Interfaith Power and Light, The Green Seminary Initiative and Green Faith.

The Religions of the World Agree: Being Sustainable Is a Moral imperative; So, How Can We Bring the Ecology of Faith Home

PJ PictureBy: Paul L. Jones, CPA
LEED Green Associate
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

“Climate change is the most serious issue facing humanity today. It is already seriously impacting economies, ecosystems, and people worldwide. Left unchecked, it will cause tremendous suffering for all living beings.” From the International Dharma Teachers’ Statement on Climate Change, 1/8/2014

Because creation was entrusted to human stewardship, the natural world is not just a resource to be exploited but also a reality to be respected and even reverenced as a gift and trust from God. It is the task of human beings to care for, preserve and cultivate the treasures of creation.” Saint Pope John Paul II, The Church in Oceania, 2001, n.31

“For the Church of the 21st Century, good ecology is not an optional extra, but a matter of justice. It is therefore central to what it means to be a Christian.” Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church Care, Church of England

“We are convinced that there can be no sincere and enduring resolution to the challenge of the ecological crisis and climate change unless the response is concerted and collective, unless the responsibility is shared and accountable, unless we give priority to solidarity and service.” From the Joint message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the World Day of Prayer for Creation, September 1, 2017

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‘Ecology’ (from the Greek oikos) refers to the Earth as our home; our place of wellbeing. For Christians, ecological stewardship is the conviction that every gift of nature and grace comes from God and that the human person is not the absolute owner of his or her gifts or possessions but rather the trustee or steward of them. These gifts are given in trust for the building of the Kingdom of God. Christians are called to appreciate the spiritual and theological significance of the Earth and to exercise ecological stewardship of the Earth and its resources. The gifts of creation are not simply there for human use, but have their own dignity, value and integrity.

In April 2016, Muslim leaders delivered the Islamic climate change declaration. From an article announcing its’ release, “Islam teaches us that ‘man is simply a steward holding whatever is on earth in trust’,” says Nana Firman, Co-Chair of the Global Muslim Climate Network. “The Declaration calls upon all nations and their leaders to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and support vulnerable communities, both in addressing the impacts of climate change and in harnessing renewable energy.”

“Mahatma Gandhi urged, ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world.’ If alive today, he would call upon Hindus to set the example, to change our lifestyle, to simplify our needs and restrain our desires. As one sixth of the human family, Hindus can have a tremendous impact. We can and should take the lead in Earth-friendly living, personal frugality, lower power consumption, alternative energy, sustainable food production and vegetarianism, as well as in evolving technologies that positively address our shared plight.” From the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change

“In the Jewish liturgy there is a prayer called Aleinu in which we ask that the world be soon perfected under the sovereignty of God (le-takein ‘olam  be-malkhut Shaddai). Tikkun ‘olam, the perfecting or the repairing of the world, has become a major theme in modern Jewish social justice theology. It is usually expressed as an activity, which must be done by humans in partnership with God. It is an important concept in light of the task ahead in environmentalism. In our ignorance and our greed, we have damaged the world and silenced many of the voices of the choir of Creation. Now we must fix it. There is no one else to repair it but us.” by Rabbi Lawrence Troster

So, all of the world’s major religions and all of the spiritual leaders of the world agree: Being a faithful steward in the care of His Creation is a religious and spiritual mandate: It is our obligation. But then we see churches that run the air conditioning full blast – when only a few people are present or we witness waste in water consumption, food preparation and other church, school and ecological waste in related parish activities. I think this lack of prioritization among every pastor, priest, rabbi, imam, swami and teacher, not just the leadership of a few, as evidenced by the failure to make every building occupied by a religious or spiritual institution sustainable.

As Saint James tells us “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of Wisdom.” (James 3:13)

Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. This estimate relies on the RCMS 2010 religious congregations census. Of those, about 314,000 are Protestant and other Christian churches, and 24,000 are Catholic and Orthodox churches. Non-Christian religious congregations are estimated at about 12,000.

According to the Catholic Climate Covenant in their presentation on the Catholic Covenant Energies program, “there are an estimated 70,000 Catholic-owned buildings in the United States.” Considering that the Catholic Church represents less than 10% of all religious congregations in the U.S., the opportunity for reducing the carbon footprint through sustainable practices in our churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, day care centers and other facilities operated by religious congregations is enormous. The Covenant calculates that by implementing proven and affordable conservation measures, Catholic-owned buildings can reduce energy use in buildings owned by 25% saving the Catholic Church $630 million in energy costs, “reducing energy use by an equivalent of 8.7 million tons of coal.”

Now, imagine if all faith denominations practiced what they preached – and not just in the United States but throughout the world! The Church and all religious denominations would then make a real – and positive – impact on the lives of all people, reducing suffering and promoting the cause of social justice. Further, the savings from lower utility bills and other sustainable practices can be diverted to core Church ministries like education, youth outreach and the care of the least in their community. Finally, through the implementation of sustainable practices, parishioners would learn how to be sustainable in their personal lives – saving on their utility bills helps the poor afford other necessities – life food or medicine.

So, what is a congregation to do?

In his book, “Inspiring Progress: Religions’ Contributions to Sustainable Development,” Gary Gardner, provides five capacities in which religion can help meet the challenge posed by climate change and sea level rise:

  1. Engage members of faith-based groups
  2. Moral authority – offer ethical guidelines and religious leadership
  3. Provide meaning by shaping world views and new paradigms of well-being
  4. Share physical resources; and
  5. Build community to support sustainable practices

And then there is the key to the Kingdom, be sustainable. Here are some of the most cost-effective steps any parish can take to begin the process of becoming a sustainable religious community. These steps can help reduce energy bills, tackle climate change and build a more sustainable future.

  • Air seal doors, windows and any other drafty locations which reduces the waste of energy used to heat or cool the facility;
  • Employ energy efficiency technology that optimizes energy performance which includes LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and insulating hot water storage tanks.
  • Be prudent in energy use: adjusting the thermostats 1 degree lower in the church, parish hall or other facilities can cut heating costs 5 percent over the course of a heating season. Setting the air-conditioning a few degrees higher has an equal effect; and
  • Improve water use efficiency by using low-flush toilets and urinals in parish facilities, landscaping with plants that don’t require a lot of water, collecting and reusing water for irrigation, employing detection devices to fix leaking pipes and plumbing (Installing high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances can help reduce indoor water use by one-third, saving on water and sewer bills, and cutting energy use by as much as 6 percent);
  • Choose local suppliers and contractors who employ sustainable practices like energy efficiencies and use of “green” products;
  • Identify and employ wider, imaginative ways – like a temporary farmer’s market, reversible accommodation for classes, meetings and other uses to use church properties when not engaged in worship; and
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle.

Then, pewsthere are larger projects – like replacing HVAC equipment and appliances that are near the end of their functional life; adding solar panels, installing a geo-thermal plant, replacing vehicles with fuel-efficient, electric, hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles and encourage use of mass transit, carpooling and telecommuting.

The Catholic Climate Covenant and its sister organization, Catholic Covenant Energies, a non-profit organization which is working with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and similar for-profit organizations like Commons Energy which is working with the Archdiocese of Vermont are available to provide financing.

Now is the time for our religions to take the lead in bringing sustainable practices to their properties, to their parishes and to their community… From the first letter of Saint John (3:18), “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in Truth.”

A Wood Fence Just Won’t Do

Wood is a great material for a myriad of products, but not for a fence. With consistent weather and pest exposure, wood fences often succumb to a number of factors that decrease the overall value of your fence and property. You’ll find that with a wood fence, weather and pest exposure can cause:

  • Rotting
    • Warping
    • Splintering
    • Staining
    • Integrity loss

Many of these issues are caused by wind, sun exposure, freezing temperatures and snow, as the heating and cooling often breaks down the wood fibers and the overall integrity of the fence. This results in panel shrinking, meaning an overall loss of security and privacy. And because wood is composed of organic materials, wood fences often become food for termites, wood ants and other pests.

These issues mean wood fences must be repaired and replaced more frequently, which translates to more wasted materials and new materials to supplement replacing the old. This inevitably reflects on the wood industry, which participates in logging and other practices detrimental to the environment.

Emerald Skyline Corporation is proud to offer Trex Fencing to commercial building and property owners. If you’re interested in installing Trex Fencing at your commercial property, please email us at info@emeraldskyline.com. Please also read through some of the most commonly asked questions about why Trex Fencing is superior to wood:

WHY IS TREX® FENCING BETTER THAN WOOD?

Trex Fencing offers superior durability and performance that you can’t get from wood. Trex Fencing resists termites, won’t rot, warp, or splinter and never needs staining or painting. What’s more, Trex Fencing is made from 95% recycled materials (reclaimed wood as well as recycled plastic), making it an environmentally-friendly choice you can feel pleased about.

IF TREX® FENCING IS MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS, WHY IS IT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN WOOD?

While most of the raw materials used in making Trex® Fencing are recycled, these materials are carefully processed to ensure the highest level of quality and performance. The end result is fencing that performs better than wood, actually lowering your cost over time through less maintenance.

WHAT IS THE LIFETIME VALUE OF TREX FENCING?

With wood fences, maintenance costs add up over time. Although Trex® Fencing costs more initially, you’ll never have to sand, stain or paint your Trex Fencing. Over the life of your fence, those reduced maintenance costs add up to a greater value than wood – not to mention the value of all the time you get to spend enjoying your fence rather than working on it.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STOCKADE COMPOSITE FENCES AND INNOVATIVE HIGH-PERFORMANCE TREX FENCING?

Understanding the differences between a stockade composite fence and an innovative high-performance Trex® fence is an important factor in distinguishing the benefits of Trex.

Stockade Composite Fences (Dog-Eared). These traditional types of fences use backer rails and pickets screwed or nailed to the rails. Fasteners are visible on these types of fences. True privacy is hard to obtain because the expansion of the material at higher temperatures requires the pickets to be gapped during installation. The gap becomes even more pronounced when the temperatures drop and the material contracts. A board-on-board (overlapping picket) design could be used but that creates additional expense and still won’t fully close gaps if the boards warp. Because backer rails are usually exposed on one side of the fence, determining which side will face the neighbors could lead to difficult conversations. The typical recommendation for stockade-style fences is to install them on 6′ post centers which adds costs for posts and causes extra time and expense for labor. Stockade composite fences are usually not tested or backed with product engineering.

Innovative High-Performance Trex® Fencing. The innovative design of Trex® Fencing includes a board-on-board appearance with top and bottom fascia rails, capped with an attractive shadow-line. The fence’s innovation isn’t just about appearance — it is easy for do-it-yourselfers or professionals to install. The form and function of the components were also carefully considered during development. For example, the brackets allow fasteners to be hidden and the interlocking picket system not only provides complete privacy, it eliminates warping and strengthens the fence. Trex® Fencing is installed on 8’ post centers reducing additional product cost and extra time for labor.

BEYOND USING RECYCLED MATERIALS, WHAT OTHER ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY PRACTICES DOES TREX® EMPLOY?

The Trex environmentally-friendly manufacturing process recycles factory refuse/runoff back into the manufacturing line. Within the manufacturing plants, the trailers that carry product run on vegetable-based oil hydraulics. Trex is a member of the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) and Trex products contribute to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) points.

Exxon boss: climate change is ‘real’ and ‘serious’

The company is accused of ignoring its own climate change science for years.

By: Alejandro Dávila Fragoso
View the original article at ThinkProgress.

tillerson

ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson. CREDIT: AP/Evan Vucci

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the company backs a price on carbon and believes climate change brings “real” risks that require “serious” action.

Speaking at the Oil & Money conference in London, Tillerson also noted that the Paris climate accord set to kick in this November is unlikely to limit near-term consumption of oil and gas, Climate Central reported.

“We have long used a proxy cost of carbon… there’s a range depending on the country, depending on the tax that we think would be appropriate,” he said. “We’re trying to influence and inform people and business on the choices they make.”

Tillerson’s comments come amidst accusations that Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest listed oil and gas company, for years ignored company scientists who warned about climate change as early as 1977. The company has also been accused of funding climate science denial groups. Since the story broke in 2015, multiple state attorneys general, led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, and organizations have subpoenaed the company to give investigators 40 years of documents on research findings and communications about climate change.

Exxon denies the accusations and has even sued some state AGs. On Monday, after almost a year of cooperating, the company sued in a Texas federal court to block the subpoenas from New York and Massachusetts, Inside Climate News reported.

In a news release, Exxon called the New York and Massachusetts investigations “biased attempts to further a political agenda for financial gain.” The company said Schneiderman and others are colluding with anti-oil and gas activists. For more than decade “it has widely and publicly confirmed” the risk of climate change and its potential impacts on society and ecosystems, the company said in the news release.

Organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) dispute that, however. UCS claims that as recently as 2015, Tillerson said the world should improve its understanding of climate science before acting, and that he’s asserted climate models are inaccurate. The advocacy organization also notes Exxon is still associated with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a free-market lobbying group that has worked to kill renewable energy programs, and teach climate denial in schools.

On Wednesday, Tillerson avoided the most recent controversy, but said that since 2006, Exxon has been committed to doing the “right thing the right way.”

“Integrity is in everything we do. It’s the foundation of trust and cooperation. A focus on integrity makes a corporations more effective,” he said.

Shoreline Adaptation Land Trusts “SALT” – new concept for adaptation

John EnglanderBy John Englander
www.johnenglander.net

 

 

Shoreline Adaptation Land Trusts – “SALT” «««« DOWNLOAD HERE

At a conference today in St. Petersburg Florida I have put forth a new concept: Shoreline Adaptation Land Trusts. “SALT” The 3-page paper was published by the Institute of Science for Global Policy and can be downloaded above or from their web site www.scienceforglobalpolicy.org

I developed the concept in response to their challenge to come up with something specific that could be based on science and help the adaptation of policy to deal with rising sea level. This two day forum is: “Sea Level Rise: What’s Our Next Move?”

Similar to the concept of conservation land trusts which have been well established, a SALT could create a vehicle to facilitate the migration of vulnerable private lands. If you are interested, please download the short paper with the description.

Why Florida Developers and Business Interests Need To Understand and Embrace “Adaptation Action Areas.”

 

Mitch Chester

By Mitchell A. Chester, Esq.

The latest projections of anticipated sea level rise (SLR) in Southeastern Florida offer a stark and compelling reminder that commercial and residential adaptation planning should be a priority concern for developers, building and unit owners and operators, businesses and even tenants.

In October, 2015, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact Sea Level Rise Work Group released a document which projects by the year 2030, sea level rise in the region can increase 6 to 10 inches (above 1992 mean sea level) by 2030, just a mere 14 years away. That’s only about half way through a 30 year mortgage. By 2060, the increase above 1992 levels is anticipated to be, based upon present peer-reviewed scientific projections, 34 inches.

To put that in to another context, according to the Work Group, between 1992 and 2015, based upon NASA satellite measurements, the ocean in this part of the planet has heightened by almost 3 inches. That is a significant rise in very short period of time.

As SLR science evaluates and warns of complex dynamic factors such as thermal expansion of ocean water, changing oceanic currents, as well as melting rates of ice sheets and glaciers, society needs to responsibly plan for and adapt to the reality of climate change by developing planning and operational tools which will extend the life of vulnerable areas. This includes preparing existing and planned commercial and residential structures on threatened properties.

An initial effort to plan for such adaptation was created by the Florida Legislature in 2011. Tallahassee adopted the Community Planning Act, which currently provides for “Adaptation Action Areas” (“AAA’s). One of the few actions taken by state lawmakers to address SLR concerns to date, Section 163.3164 (1) of the Florida Statutes defines AAA’s as “a designation in the coastal management element of a local government’s comprehensive plan which identifies one or more areas that experience coastal flooding due to extreme high tides and storm surge, and that are vulnerable to the related impacts of rising sea levels for the purpose of prioritizing funding for infrastructure needs and adaptation planning.”

Without understanding if there is adequate public infrastructure in specific areas, such as resilient water treatment facilities, storm drain systems, roads and bridges, developers and other business stakeholders may make costly and risky decisions to build or upgrade facilities which will be adversely and perhaps prematurely impacted by the verified threat of rising seas.

The failure to thoroughly understand the menace ocean dynamics presents to specific construction projects can ultimately lead to negligence and errors and omissions lawsuits against proponents of the projects, land owners, architects, engineers and construction companies.

Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 163.3177 (6) (g) (10), local governments have the current option to develop AAA boundary areas. These AAA zones can vary in shape and size, and are carefully being implemented in certain areas, such as within portions of the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Inclusion within properly funded Adaptation Action Areas have the potential to increase the value and useful lives of properties to be built or which are being revitalized.

Local governmental discretion to create and manage AAA’s is a potentially powerful tool which can be employed as a part of Florida’s growth management laws. When established for a part of a municipality, AAA’s are designed to promote adaptation to SLR and other coastal hazards, including rising water tables, tidal flooding and storm surge. The AAA strategy allows for funding, on a priority basis, for government infrastructure improvements within the defined boundaries of the AAA.

In November, 2013, the South Florida Regional Planning Council (SFRPC) made it clear, “This is the time for all Floridians, the majority of whom live less than 60 miles from the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, to question the long-term effects of sea level rise on more than 1,350 miles of our coastline, 4,500 of our estuaries and bays, and over 6,700 square miles of our other coastal waters.”

The SFRPC highlighted high-stakes economic concerns. According to the report Adaptation Action Areas: Policy Options for Adaptive Planning for Rising Sea Levels, “Three-fourths of Florida’s population resides in coastal counties that generate 79 percent of the state’s total annual economy. These counties represent a built-environment and infrastructure whose replacement value in 2010 is $2.0 trillion and which by 2030 is estimated to be $3.0 trillion.”

As Southeastern Florida grows in population and with new projects, clearly, there’s a lot at stake. Those planning to build new condominiums, offices, facilities and other “built environment” developments cannot responsibly do so without an understanding of the meaning of AAA’s. Furthermore, even those desiring to re-build structures need to recognize the critical conceivable importance of AAA’s in their planning process.

As usual, money is key. This means corporate financial adaptation in real estate development is just as important as any other aspect of proposing, and building structures.

In certain coastal and nearby inland areas, fiscal consequences have already profoundly impacted shoreline and adjacent lands. Take for example, the City of Miami Beach, which is spending in excess of a reported $400 million to place pumping facilities throughout the city and the intense and costly focus on climate related issues within the City of Fort Lauderdale and surrounding communities.

Understanding the potential benefits of inclusion in coastal community adaptation action areas can provide is a part of a responsible private sector hazard exposure management strategy. The key is early, intelligent and probing due diligence.

For example, developers considering new coastal projects, on either side of Florida’s Coastal Construction Control Line, will want to know several key issues prior to proceeding with a project so they can financially adapt:

  1. Is the property to be developed included within the boundary of an existing AAA? If not, is a AAA zone being considered for the subject property?
  2. What public infrastructure projects are planned for the immediate area around the proposed construction site? Is the existing or planned governmental infrastructure adequate to serve the development’s anticipated life-span?
  3. Is the AAA funded, and if so, what public projects within the zone are prioritized? How will early AAA projects affect the subject property? What funding mechanisms will power the AAA? For example, federal programs, increased taxes, a variation of development impact fees or bond issuances?
  4. What future plans does the municipality have within the specific designated AAA boundaries? Is the AAA in the planning or operational stage?
  5. What are the flooding risks for the developer’s site footprint over time?
  6. What political challenges are there to the full and proper implementation of an effective AAA?
  7. Will inclusion in an AAA zone enhance the property value of the project? One thought is that being situated within a AAA can potentially increase market value over a limited period of time.
  8. What area protection measures are being considered or are already underway to mitigate against sea level rise?
  9. What construction design requirements are being considered or mandated for the specific AAA? For example, is structure elevation required? To what extent? Will use of such tools help to reduce environmental exposure to the structure?
  10. Is the long-term AAA goal one of retreat as opposed to adaptation? “Managed retreat” is defined by the SFRPC as, “Strategies that involve the actual removal of existing development, their possible relocation to other areas, and/or the prevention of future development in high-risk areas. Retreat strategies usually involve the acquisition of vulnerable land for public ownership, but may include other strategies such as transfer of development rights, purchase of development rights, and rolling or conservation easements.”
  11. Is the AAA in an area where no development will be allowed in the near-term? Are restricted development rights on the horizon in the specific sector?
  12. What new technologies and strategies can be used within the boundaries of the AAA to help lengthen the productive life of the zone?
  13. Will buyers, renters, visitors and tenants be attracted to the property because of its inclusion in a AAA? In other words, can the zone have the same significance as a sea level rise equivalent of LEED-certified buildings?
  14. What can the county and municipality tell you about any adverse consequences for building and developing in a specific AAA?

Peer-reviewed science is clear. Even if we eliminate all greenhouse gasses over the coming years, sea level rise will continue. That’s the blunt reality. Properly planned and funded, Adaptation Action Areas can extend, for some finite period of time, those lands which are most at risk to the ever encroaching ocean waters.

Understanding the sustainable benefits of Adaptation Action Areas is key to responsible planning and development in coastal regions. Much more needs to be done in Congress and at the State Legislature to help engender constructive adaptation to sea level rise, but responsible implementation of AAA’s, with a strong public-private partnership, is a good starting point.

Mitchell A. Chester, Esq. is a civil trial lawyer practicing in South Florida. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and an AV rated attorney. In practice for over 36 years, he is deeply concerned about developing legal and monetary adaptation strategies and solutions for communities threatened by swelling oceans. Mr. Chester is editor of RaisingFields.org (how agriculture can adapt to sea level rise and increased heat), SLRAmerica.org (which explores legal and practical financial issues pertaining to sea level rise), FinancialAdaptation.org (monetary tools for sea level rise), Sea Level Rise Radio.com (a podcast which discusses topics to examine key societal issues and opportunities presented by encroaching waters) and MySeaLevelRise.org (SLR issues). His focus is on people, including homeowners, renters and business owners as we jointly prepare for altered coastlines. He is one of the directors of the CLEO Institute, which educates government leaders and students in Southeastern Florida about sea level rise and climate issues. Mr. Chester has presented SLR and climate issues in Southeastern Florida including events at the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, Miami-Dade College, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, the Environmental Coalition for Miami and the Beaches, the Coral Gables Museum, and other venues.

How Greed and Capitalism Can Solve the Climate Crisis

By Greg Hamra, LEED AP BD+C, O+M
Climate Solutionist, Education & Advocacy
Guest Author

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You’re about to learn of a fiscally conservative, market based solution to the climate crisis that reduces government regulations, boosts economic growth, creates millions of jobs, save thousands of lives per year and reduces greenhouse gases and has the endorsement of leading economists and world-famous scientists.

But first, a disclaimer: I think Naomi Klein makes some very good points in her book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.” Naomi Klein first landed on my radar with this hard-hitting quote:

“Climate change detonates the ideological scaffolding on which contemporary conservatism rests. A belief system that vilifies collective action and declares war on all corporate regulation and all things public simply cannot be reconciled with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that are largely responsible for creating and deepening the crisis.”

I find it very difficult to argue with her statement. However, many experts believe solution exists somewhere in between Naomi Klein and Milton Friedman, in fixing capitalism, not overthrowing it. Don’t be so quick to dismiss capitalism as a tremendously powerful force to drive human behavior and major financial moves. Right now capitalism is very broken. It’s being misused, mismanaged, and even hijacked. And when it comes to our energy economy, it is completely bastardized. Milton Friedman is turning over in his grave.

“It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.” – Fredric Jameson

And if you think all this is just a scam – part of a liberal conspiracy, I say to you: “You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” - Ayn Rand

Please take a moment to consider the benefits being put forth, an economic boost, job creation, and restoration of free-market capitalism! The issues at hand are of such great urgency and importance that none of us can enjoy the luxury of expecting everyone to do what needs to be done for the same reasons you or I have.

So what’s the problem?

Our need power our world by continually burning of fossil fuels results in serious consequences for our planet, our economy, and the way we live. Our very way of life is threatened. Burning of fossil fuels results in the release of heat-trapping gases to our atmosphere. This is not disputed.

The costs associated with this are immense. They include: downwind emissions that shorten people’s lives, sea-level rise (SLR), extreme weather, increased wildfires, ecosystem and biodiversity loss (including crop loss), dying coral, famine, floods, mudslides, damaged fisheries, and a national security risk in the form of climate refugees. (See documentary: “Climate Refugees” with Newt Gingrich – trailer).

The big issue for us in South Florida is clearly sea-level rise. In fact, Miami is ground-zero for the economic impacts of sea-level rise with the greatest value of assets at risk in the world. SLR is the result of a warming planet. Over 93% of the Earth’s trapped surface heat goes straight to the oceans. Thermal expansion of ocean water and melting of land-based ice results in sea-level rise. Here in S. FL, the seas have risen nearly 9 inches in the past 100 years, as measured by the Naval Air Station in Key West. During super high-tides, sea water is delivered into our streets through the storm sewers. (Sea-level rise in action) The City of Miami Beach is undertaking major infrastructure improvements, raising sea-walls, roads and sidewalks, and installing pumps to return seawater back to Biscayne Bay. The first phase of this project included four pumps at a cost of $15 Million. The entire project will involve 60-70 pumps with a whopping price-tag.

Estimated cost: $500 MILLION

Prices reflected in our cost of good or fuels: $0

With assets in the trillions to be protected, we need to do this, but we also need to fix a big accounting error.

Our broken energy economy bears little resemblance to a free-market economic model.

Three predominant market distortions that must be remedied:

  • The price on fossil fuels does not reflect the social costs.
  • Energy subsidies (picking winners and losers) serve to create deeper market distortions.
  • Top-down government regulations can be inefficient and costly, and receive consistent pushback from ‘free-market’ purists and industry groups.

The President’s new Clean Power Plan is an aggressive and effort to tackle GHG emissions. So what’s the problem? Half of the states are already protesting it.
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Our energy economy is broken. Very broken. Nobody argues with this.

Another problem we have are elected leaders who are driven by fear, short-term interests, and often re-elected by low-information, similarly fearful voters. I submit that most of these punters, these ‘slow-lane’ Americans who waffle somewhere between “let’s keep it in neutral” and “more CO2 release is good for us” are actually quite scared. But they’re not afraid of the science. They’re afraid of the solutions. They fear that anything we do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will tank our economy. Many people truly believe this, conservatives and many liberals too. And they’re wrong.

What we have at hand is potentially the biggest job-creating economic stimulus ever seen… if we get it right. But what if we don’t? It’s not like it’s the end of the world, right? Wrong That’s exactly what it means. Our survival on this planet depends on getting this right, and fast. We can’t afford to punt. We need a big play.

We need to fix the accounting error. The moment we begin to account for the social and environmental costs of carbon based fuels, the markets will shift.

To my conservative friends:

Our energy economy is nothing at all like the “free-market” Milton Friedman envisioned. Would you help to restore true, free-market principles, remove the socialism from the system, help restore capitalism and fix our energy economy? Consider dealing with this issue the Reagan way.

To my more liberal, and potentially anti-capitalist friends:

Capitalism is a big word, with many flavors. Leading economists realize we’re getting it wrong and that a correction is in order. Experts think more plausible, and certainly more politically viable to plug the holes in capitalism rather than swap it for an entirely different economic system. That would require nothing short of a revolution. Are you ready for that? Me neither.

There’s one plan that could put us on the right track. The Washington Post called it the most politically viable solution to reducing greenhouse gasses, and it is consistent conservative economic principles.

The carbon fee + dividend (CF&D) plan was written by a Republican icon, George Shultz, President Reagan’s Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State, and Nobel laureate Gary Becker.

It calls for a steadily-rising revenue-neutral carbon tax collected at the most upstream point — the mine, well, frack pad — (about 1600 points of collection in the U.S.) and rebating those fees back to American households. All of it. This is not a big government plan. In fact, it trades in current big government regulations and subsidies for a simple, more honest, market-based plan that fixes the accounting error.

This plan is consistent with conservative economic principles by embedding the true cost into the price we pay for our direct and embodied energy. When happens, market actors change behavior almost immediately. When the markets move in this direction we’ll be on our way. Suddenly all those green jobs we’ve wanted start taking off. American ingenuity and competition is unleashed.

This plan has the endorsement of leading economists, top scientists, and top economic policy analysts. George Shultz says: “You shouldn’t call it a tax if the government doesn’t keep it!”

Read about the Shultz-Becker Carbon Tax proposal in this WSJ article (or see PDF).

In summary the Carbon Fee and Dividend plan:

  • reduces government intervention
  • leverages the incredible power of the market
  • is revenue-neutral; rebates all funds to taxpayers
  • unleashes American ingenuity and innovation, and spurs competition
  • will create millions of jobs, benefiting our economy (REMI report)
  • would eliminate costly fossil-fuel subsidies
  • would result in thousands of lives saved
  • would reduce GHGs by over 50% by 2035

From a performance standpoint, the Carbon Fee & Dividend would outperform the Clean Power Plan. Look:

  • CPP aims for a 32% emissions reduction by 2030 (and some call it a job killer)
  • CFD would reduce CO2 emissions by 52% by 2035 (and it creates 2.8 million jobs)

So the solution is simple:

  1. Put an HONEST price on carbon
  2. Rebate all fees to American households
  3. Get out of the way and let the free market work

This is a call to my fellow Americans. Let’s fix capitalism! Let’s restore some honesty into the system.

Economist Robert Reich explains in 3-minutes:

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What we need is political will for a livable world. We need a price on carbon, a carbon fee & dividend.

To be part of the solution, contact Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the most effective organization driving sane climate policy in this country. www.citizensclimatelobby.org

The world’s most famous climate scientist says…
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Learn more:

 

Perhaps the Scientists are sounding too much like Chicken Little

11/5/14

PJ Picture
By Paul L. Jones
, Founder,
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

 
This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its latest report on the effects of climate change on the world if corrective action is not taken. The headline in the Miami Herald read “Scientists’ warning is most alarming yet.”

A review of articles on climate change reflects similar headlines and worse – like “Goodbye Miami” or “Florida developers facing environmental woes.”

The alarm bell is ringing – and the headlines are starting to sound like Chicken Little crying “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” in the children’s books. I know it does to me – and I know that the scientists have done their homework which is the opposite of Chicken Little and all his furry friends – Hen Pen, Duck Luck, Goose Loose and Turkey Lurkey.

In fact, a group of industry experts and sustainability professionals met in London last summer to dialogue about a report being issued by DNV GL, a leading ship and offshore classification, a leading technical advisor to the global oil and gas energy and a leading expert for the energy value chain including renewables and energy efficiency. The report, entitled, A Safe and Sustainable Future: Enabling the Transition, provides an analysis of challenges to sustainability in the global economy, societal well-being and governmental and corporate governance.

In an article published in Maritime Executive (http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/Too-Much-Climate-Change-Doom-and-Gloom-2014-07-12), entitled “To Much Climate Change Doom and Gloom,” participants expressed concern that the messaging around climate change is too much “doom and gloom” and not enough on the opportunities that are arising from addressing the effects of a warming world. Bjorn Haugland, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer at DNV GL was quoted:

“We believe there is a need to put the focus on the opportunities. For corporate leaders and politicians to speak a positive narrative is so important as it directs so much activity in society.

“We believe it is possible to create a thriving economy, it is possible to stay within the limits of the planet and it is possible to create a society for nine billion people to live well if we want to. It is human activity that has taken us into this situation and it is human activity that will take us out of it.”

Much of our perspective on the world, including our economic systems, is based on the belief that the world has an infinite supply of natural capital and a warming planet; however, the headlines about water shortages, famines, super storms, flooding, the hottest year on record, rising sea levels, ice caps melting and other calamities highlight that the scientists are not Chicken Little – the evidence is all around us.

Whether or not the global warming is man-made or from natural causes does not really matter, it is affecting the future for man-kind. Further, resource limitations can be extended – like the Green Revolution in agriculture where research, development and new technology between the 1940s and the 1980s increased agricultural production around the world – saving hundreds of millions of people from starvation.

Challenges abound everywhere, but where there are challenges, opportunity also exists.

DNV GL’s research report highlights 36 “barriers to sustainability” which range from economic and market hurdles to policy, societal and behavioral attitudes and habits – including reactive and short-term thinking, “denialism” and a lack of urgency. (available here: http://dnvgl.com/Images/DNV%20GL%20SSF_20_aug2014_tcm212-595432.pdf)

The Report concludes with Pathways to a Sustainable Future, which is summarized as follows:

“Our vision for a safe and sustainable future is within reach. Humanity has faced, and overcome, grand challenges in the past. Undoubtedly, we can surmount our present challenges too – if we choose to. Changing course will depend on our ability to work together, to act quickly and to harvest opportunities both today and tomorrow.

“We can develop an economy that is sustainable and regenerative, we can rejuvenate our ecosystems, and we can build the stable, equitable and thriving societies that we desire for the future. We are at a moment in time where there is a unique opportunity to shape the future we want.”

The scientists are not Chicken Little. It is time to stop ignoring the headlines which are designed to instill a sense of urgency and realize that the time is now for each of us to act.

It is real estate owners and investors who have the most to lose as the effects of climate change will most definitely be seen in utility bills, property taxes and insurance premiums.   With the new building management technologies, energy efficiency, water conservation capabilities and waste management programs, building owners and managers have the ability to reduce operating costs while making the building sustainable. We know. We see it being done – in both new and existing buildings.

As Glenn Pickett reports in his article on “the Drumbeat for Climate Action Grows,” published in Environmental Leader on 11/3/2014,

“The appetite is all but gone for hearing more about our frightening global forecast and who’s at fault for it. The more time the environmental and sustainability movement spends sharing solutions, the more mainstream these choices will have the chance of becoming….. It’s time for action, and leaders will be rewarded.”

Read more: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/11/03/the-drumbeat-for-climate-action-grows/#ixzz3I7KNzYO0

May we all become good stewards of this earth.

Now, let me tell you about this…

10/22/14

PJ Picture
By Paul L. Jones
, Founder,
Director, Financial Advisory Services for Emerald Skyline Corporation

 

I freeze…become paralyzed in the face of danger or uncertainty. It is something that I am getting better at as I age but I still tend to become a deer in the headlights from time to time. In heated discussions, I never come up with the one line “Buzzinga” response until later – sometimes days later – when it is too late to be effective.

Does this happen to you?   Or, are you one of the blessed people who know just the right response to any situation without giving it a second thought? Do you see a situation and instantly know and take the correct action to save the person from going into the undertow or stop the bleeding from a kitchen knife cut or have just the right response to win the debate?

We all respond to new circumstances differently. Some freeze, some panic and run, others deny what is happening like a child who pretends people cannot see him when he pulls his “magical” covers over his head. And, then, there are some charge forward full speed ahead.

Again, if you are like me, once you get over the shock of “is this really happening?” you assess the situation, spring into action and work feverishly to correct, or save, the situation….

Based on the muted reaction, or the “I am not a scientist so it does not exist” position of a significant number of our civic, community and business leaders, either they are in shock that the world’s climate can change so rapidly or they are in complete denial which is worse. The fact that many large American cities ranging from Galveston and New Orleans to Tampa, Miami and even as far north as New York City will be faced with significant issues from the rising sea level is still being debated among politicians reflects a similar approach to reality as the child with the magic blanket.

The news of global warming, now more appropriately referred to as Climate Change, is not new. Scientists have been ringing the warning bell for at least two decades. And yet we still do not want to believe.

Well, we are now starting to see the effects. Storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, increased flooding in cities like Miami Beach, increased tornado activity, the hottest year on record, and shrinking shorelines caused by sea level rise are now featured in the news on a regular basis.

Many government officials responsible for protecting the public from such events are joining in the chorus to raise awareness in order to make their job of obtaining public approval for a budget to install and maintain systems and equipment to reduce the damage from the effects of climate change feasible.

Yet, it is the real estate community that seems to most want to stick their head in the sand….For instance, last July, the Miami-Dade Sea Level Rise Task Force issued its report and recommendations. Shortly afterwards, the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects held a meeting with Harvey Ruvin, Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts and Chairman of the Task Force, presenting the report. The meeting, which was broadly announced, had fewer than 100 attendees and almost no one from the real estate community was in attendance.

As reported in the June 2014 report “Risky Business: A Climate Risk Assessment for the United States”, it is apparent that climate change and sea level rise are going to have significant effects on the American global business community – and real estate, which has a particular distinction of being immovable, is going to be more impacted than most industries.

And yet. And yet the real estate community is acting as if it is business as usual. The level of interest in doing a sustainable retrofit has yet to make a significant impact on the market – especially for properties that are not seeking credit-quality tenants whose corporate sustainability policies encourage occupancy in LEED-certified buildings. (According to an article entitled “What’s Sustainability Wroth to Tenants?” by Paul Bubny of Cushman & Wakefield in the 10/28/2014 GlobeSt.com national eMagazine, ” Among the 37 real estate and sustainability directors at 23 US-based corporations surveyed by C&W, 74% see value in going to a sustainable building compared to a non-sustainable one.”1

With the obvious costs to upgrade and improve the infrastructure – especially electrical and water and sewer utilities, as well as expected increase in insurance costs, a prudent reaction to the reality of climate change and sea level rise would be to put improvements in place now that reduce the consumption of water and power as well as to make a building less susceptible to damage from major hurricanes, storms and other weather events (like flooding).

We can only hope that real estate owners, investors, managers and tenants will soon realize that the future is now, overcome their “shock” of the impending calamity and start to take action. It is time to take action. The economic, environmental and operational benefits will be immediate and, if done right, sustainable.

And, as in any crisis situation, if you wait too long to take action, the results can be devastating. Let me know if I can be of service.

1 See (http://www.globest.com/news/12_975/national/office/Whats-Sustainability-Worth-to-Tenants-351877.html?ET=globest:e44644:11970a:&st=email&s=&cmp=gst:National_AM_20141027:editorial).