Resiliency: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness; elasticity

Neil Shah

Regional Managing Director, Americas (RICS)

The people affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma are already demonstrating resiliency. It may be some time before the infrastructure systems of Houston and its surrounding communities can truly bounce back from the storm’s destruction. The extent of the damage in the Caribbean and the Southeast US is still unfolding.

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These recent natural disasters call for RICS to amplify its efforts to promote infrastructure resiliency. Our qualified professionals are at the forefront of promoting and enhancing infrastructure development in the Americas. The devastation caused by these storms demonstrates the role resilient infrastructure must play to enable communities overcome such natural disasters.

Urgent Upgrade

The destruction from these storms have brought to light the fact that US infrastructure is not only in need of an urgent upgrade, but also needs to factor resilience into its development. Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012) were thought to be 500 year storms to hit the United States. Recent events tell us otherwise. With the apparent frequency of superstorms increasing, resilience planning for municipal utilities and infrastructure systems must be prioritized. Changes to flood maps, zoning ordinances and building to enhanced codes will help avoid damages such as the magnitude we’ve witnessed in Houston, Miami and the Caribbean islands. Leaders in the built environment community have a role to play in ensuring public safety and communities’ economic solvency.

Better infrastructure management is not only necessary to make better use of tax payer dollars, but to ensure that resiliency and disaster preparedness are considered. Significant damage to residential and commercial property (as well as risk to public safety) can be avoided through better integration of infrastructure and property development.

Built Environment Professionals Needed

Whatever one believes is the cause of climate change, the fact that we are in a period of dramatic change is undeniable. Professionals from across the built environment must help drive the right mix of investment return and provide leadership on safety and health concerns. Resilience risk management to minimize damage to people and property must be integrated into our work to minimize damage caused by future storms. Those of us in the fields of architecture, planning & development, construction and facility management can help lead these initiatives and we must.

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