The Kresge Foundation has awarded ULI an $800,000 grant to support its pursuit of urban design and practices that promote development that is more resilient and adaptable to the impact of climate change.

ULI’s community resilience program explores how issues related to climate change are affecting the real estate industry and reshaping urban growth patterns. Through the Kresge Foundation grant, ULI will leverage the substantial expertise of its members to provide guidance on how to build a community in a way that responds to inevitable climate change and rising sea levels and helps preserve the environment, boost economic prosperity, and foster a high quality of life.

This integrated program of work, which will be conducted in 2014 and 2015, seeks to do the following:

  • Protect the health and well-being of people, as well as the economic vitality of communities nationwide, by providing long-range resilience planning advice to vulnerable communities in six different geographic areas of the United States;
  • Focus attention on the urgency of long-range strategic resilience planning in the face of climate change by convening thought leaders and disseminating their insights and recommendations throughout ULI’s extensive member network;
  • Influence urban planning, investment, architecture, insurance, engineering, and design decision makers who affect the built environment through the preparation and distribution of independent research on creating resilient and adaptable communities; and
  • Create a series of education programs to advance resilience, targeted at ULI’s district and national councils and based on new research, best practices, and lessons learned.

“Climate change has dramatically altered approaches to development in the 21st century. Rebuilding, as well as new building, is increasingly being viewed as an opportunity to reduce disaster-related risk and increase community resilience, as well as enhance livability and protect natural resources,” says ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips.

“The generous support from the Kresge Foundation will greatly enhance the scale and scope of ULI’s work in this area. We are thrilled to have been chosen by the foundation to help advance knowledge of the relationship between climate change and land use, and we look forward to forging industry partnerships that advance best practices in community resiliency.”

Program activities will include

  • ULI advisory panels conducted in six communities, chosen according to 1) their long-range resilience-related challenges and vulnerabilities to weather and sea-level changes, and 2) the opportunity for the results to be applied to other communities with similar vulnerabilities;
  • A national convening of leaders in urban resilience and sustainability, with the goal of providing policy and practice recommendations to advance action at the national, state, and local levels;
  • Research to promote community resilience, drawing on ULI’s experts in the areas of infrastructure, housing, capital markets, climate change, land use, and energy; ULI will engage one visiting fellow in 2014 and one in 2015 to work with ULI’s senior resident fellows to explore resilience topics for broad application;
  • Funding for three district council grants aimed at developing local programming to promote resilience strategies and practices; and
  • The forging of new partnerships with other organizations committed to community resilience and the strengthening of existing partnerships.

ULI has a long history of advising communities on developing and redeveloping in ways that are environmentally conscious and economically sound, and that provide communitywide benefits.

In July 2013, ULI convened a panel of the nation’s foremost authorities on real estate and urban planning to evaluate local and federal plans for strengthening resilience in U.S. Northeast communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, and to offer guidance on rebuilding efforts in those areas. Candid insights and observations from these experts formed the basis for After Sandy: Advancing Strategies for Long-Term Resilience and Adaptability, a ULI report providing 23 recommendations in four areas—land use and development; infrastructure, technology, and capacity; finance, investment, and insurance; and leadership and governance. The report is intended to serve as a guide for vulnerable communities worldwide, and its findings will inform the work of ULI’s community resilience program.

Robert Krueger is director of public relations and social media at ULI.