Haley & Aldrich study reveals organizations are not well prepared for climate change

Boston, MA (June 8, 2015) -- While organizations realize they need to be better prepared to address natural disasters, such as record snowfall, floods, drought and other issues caused by climate change, a recent study shows that they are at best in the early planning stages. This finding, among others, was uncovered in a research study on resilience measures recently conducted by Haley & Aldrich, an environmental and engineering consulting firm. The firm interviewed organizations, including universities, city governments, infrastructure, ports and airports, real estate and military, regarding their challenges, plans and practices to address climate change.

“Research has shown that, with the exception of 1998, the ten warmest years of the past century have occurred since 2000, and they’ve caused severe weather events, such as Hurricane Sandy, California droughts and record snowfalls in New England,” said Karin Holland, senior sustainability specialist, Haley & Aldrich. “With temperatures and natural hazards continuing to increase, organizations in a variety of industries and sectors are concerned about how these changes will affect the safety of individuals, as well as their facilities and other infrastructure. They realize that they need to implement resilience measures to address these challenges head on, and our study sheds light on their key concerns and practices,” Holland added.

These are Haley & Aldrich’s key findings from the study:

  • None of the participants have a whole-system, organizational resilience program in place.
  • Approximately 50 percent already have developed, or are in the process of developing, plans to adapt existing and/or incorporate new infrastructure to protect their assets.
  • Municipalities and universities are among the most proactive, with two-thirds having some type of resilience initiative in place.
  • Ninety-four percent of participants identified barriers to resilience planning, including lack of stakeholder education and uncertainty about how to best allocate limited funding.
  • Six percent of participants identified indicators and metrics to measure progress with resilience initiatives.
  • Approximately two-thirds of the organizations are actively combining sustainability measures along with resilience, e.g., on-site renewable energy and green roofs, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide redundancy during extreme events.

To address the challenges of climate change and natural hazards, Haley & Aldrich recommends several best-practice strategies, including:

  • Be proactive. Don’t wait for a major event to occur, but instead start assessing your vulnerabilities and begin planning.
  • Take advantage of ecological resources to mitigate climate change impact, such as using wetlands in combination with sea walls to absorb waves during storms.
  • Include all stakeholders in the process.
  • Collaborate with community and other related groups to share resources and expertise.

Read the complete report with recommendations here.

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