Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines Approved

The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) Board of Directors voted last week to adopt the Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines at its September Board Meeting, guidelines that will affect development in Charlestown.

The Guidelines build on  Climate Ready Boston, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s ongoing initiative to help Boston plan for the impacts of climate change and build a more resilient future. 

“Climate Ready Boston lays out strategies that think holistically about building a more resilient City – from protecting residents and homes to jobs and infrastructure,” said Mayor Walsh. “The Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines are an important piece of this plan. They provide a tangible resource to ensure current and future developments coincide with our vision for a more resilient Boston.”

The Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines serve as a reference for residents, business owners and developers to translate flood resiliency strategies into best practices. The Guidelines include:

•Resilience toolkit to address building form, building envelope and site access.

•Description and supporting information on technical and cost considerations, insurance factors and sustainable design co-benefits.

•Guidance on urban design, accessibility and public realm matters related to changes in elevation between a site and surrounding infrastructure.

•Measures to manage additional climate hazards. 

•Case studies that apply resilience strategies from the toolkit to representative building types in the future flood zone.

The Guidelines will also be used to administer a future Coastal Flood Resilience Zoning Overlay District. Recommendations for the Zoning Overlay District have been developed and are currently under internal review. 

The Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines were developed in collaboration with the City of Boston’s Environment Department, a consultant team led by Utile, Inc. and an Advisory Committee comprised of local stakeholders. Additionally,  BPDA and City staff held open house meetings in neighborhoods that fall within the future flood hazard zone, including East Boston, Charlestown, South Boston, Downtown, Chinatown and Dorchester. These meetings provided community members an opportunity to offer feedback on the proposed guidelines. 

“The adoption of these Guidelines is an important step in preparing architects and other building industry professionals to play a key role in helping building owners address the design and technical challenges of adapting existing buildings to the risks of coastal flooding, storm water, and extreme heat,” said Jean Carroon, FAIA, 2019 President of the Boston Society of Architects/AIA.

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