No matter where one lives in the United States, it is possible to discern changing patterns in weather and what it brings to each community. From upward trending seasonal temperatures to polar vortexes to wildfires, flooding rivers, tornadoes and inundation, we are all touched in some way.
Some communities have suffered swift and repeated devastation, others mild, but noticeable change. Many communities that have been damaged, and even those that have not but have seen their neighbor impacted, have started to sculpt their built environment to withstand the increased weather impacts. This effort will take imagination, compromise, time, work and money. The communities that get ahead of the curve will be well positioned to maintain their desirability to residents and businesses into the future, as discussed in the article titled “Resilient Economies.”
It is becoming apparent that it is considerably less expensive to set in motion adaptation and resiliency plans to protect our built environment than it is to clean up after these disasters. This is true for the public and private sectors alike. Because the destruction is local, it is local government that has made the greatest headway in developing resiliency and adaptation plans. The private sector, too, is responding as demonstrated by developers who are not willing to risk their sizable investments and are building in adaptation and resiliency components to their major projects.
This edition of On Common Ground explores how decision makers, developers and homeowners are taking action now to preserve the viability of their property and structures into the future. The articles that follow spotlight action at the local level, building resilience, efficient homes, and resilient economies, as well as the value of open space in absorbing the impacts of extreme weather and the embedded value of smart growth development as an inherently resilient style of development.
Though each region of the country is experiencing its own particular variety of weather events, we are all in this together. It is the ability of one community to learn from its neighbor that will make us stronger as we adapt to our changing weatherscape.