An earthquake rocks Mexico City … forest fires sweep across northern California ... hurricanes strike Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. These are recent reminders that responsible management, leadership and governance requires careful planning and adequate response, even when the likelihood of a devastating event appears to be low.
To ensure that immediate environmental threats are factored into capital investment programs, WSP USA's experts help clients prepare for natural disasters, rebuild stronger through effective recovery efforts, and adapt to long-term climate impacts.
“WSP has broad and significant expertise and personnel in the areas of climate science, hydrology, geotechnical engineering, coastal engineering, vulnerability assessment, adaptation and climate resiliency,” said Steven Paquette, president of the firm’s water & environment business. “Our resiliency expertise is broadly distributed across the WSP organization.”
The firm has integrated its buildings, energy, transportation, water & environment, and advisory business lines to share expertise and develop more effective resiliency plans for clients.
“While these disparate pieces have been operating for many years at WSP, we are now bringing it all together to better support our clients' needs,” said Michael Flood, national resiliency lead for WSP. “It is a much more collaborative approach and a considerable asset to many clients.”
WSP is now better able to guide clients in the creation of resilient infrastructure and systems through an integrated, multidisciplinary approach.
“Our company can offer them the full gamut of resiliency services and guide them to make effective decisions,” Flood said.
One key advantage WSP can provide clients is a familiarity with their projects and a network of internal resources that can be quickly mobilized to address resiliency goals.
“WSP has created a wide range of resiliency and risk-assessment tools that have been effective for specific projects in our various practices,” Flood said. “Through collaboration, we have been able to expand the use of those tools and apply them on other projects across multiple markets.”
Recent Resiliency Efforts
As the need for resiliency-based planning, design and program management continues to grow, WSP is working to provide clients with the background and expertise to make strategic and thoughtful investment decisions for their long-term resiliency plans. Some recent projects include:
- New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, New York City. WSP was part of a team that served as a consultant to 10 citizen-led planning committees created in 2013 to provide rebuilding and revitalization assistance, identifying a set of needed projects totaling over $750 million to better protect communities impacted by damage from Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy. WSP identified issues that affect storm protection and recovery, and helped develop solutions to increase resiliency and protect communities against future storm events.
- Federal Research. WSP has been at the forefront of federal research efforts for a decade, providing service on various projects that have defined the state of the practice, including a project for the Federal Highway Administration that examined various system vulnerabilities – such as storm surge, wildfires, flooding and landslides – and developed risk-based design methods that can be applied by agencies to ensure their investments are effective.
- Tidal Inundation Resiliency Roadway Design Pilot Project, Monroe County (Florida Keys), Florida. WSP studied potential design and policy responses to tidal flooding, which included an analysis of past tidal flooding events and an assessment of future flooding recurrence over the lifetime of a reconstruction project by defining the impact of sea level rise through 2040. The recommendations were used to formalize county policies for roadway reconstruction and repaving projects.
- Understanding and Realizing Synergies Between Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in Cities. WSP was recently tapped by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group as a partner to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) Cities program, “Understanding and Realizing Synergies Between Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation in Cities.” WSP will identify available mitigation and adaptation actions, develop a tool to help cities make effective decisions from both perspectives, and pilot the tool in four cities worldwide to test its functionality and practicality.
- Rowes Wharf, Boston. WSP has also coordinated marketing support highlighting the coastal hazards in the Rowes Wharf area of Boston, including projected sea level changes, potential future flood elevations, and environmental impacts related to climate change. The firm will continue to work on the project as it progresses into later risk assessment phases.