SNRE students contribute to winning paper on climate change
Global climate change and coastal brownfield redevelopment are two subjects that on the surface don't play well together. But a group of University of Michigan graduate students, including four from its School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE), have come up with an award-winning strategy. Their proposal calls for linking the subjects with a glue: a planning and design concept known as "resilience."
(Media-Newswire.com) - Global climate change and coastal brownfield redevelopment are two subjects that on the surface don't play well together.
But a group of University of Michigan graduate students, including four from its School of Natural Resources and Environment ( SNRE ), have come up with an award-winning strategy. Their proposal calls for linking the subjects with a glue: a planning and design concept known as "resilience."
The ideas of the five-member student team were recognized at the University of Michigan Climate Change Student Forum 2007-08. They received top honors in the category "Best In-Class Student Paper or Project on Environmental Issues and Climate Change."
The students' interdisciplinary work was produced in the fall for the course "NRE 576/UP 576: Applying Landscape Ecological Design to Brownfield Redevelopment." Joan Nassauer, a professor of Landscape Architecture at SNRE, developed and taught the course, which received significant support in 2007 from the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, Lubert-Adler, Antares Real Estate and their partners in Stamford, Conn. Each interdisciplinary team in the course developed its own focus for proposing an alternative scenario for a 220-acre brownfield redevelopment site on the South End of Stamford.
Members of the winning team are: Jeffrey Carey, College of Engineering; M'Lis Bartlett, Amy Beltamacchi and Amy Kludt, landscape architecture ( SNRE ); Sarah Levy, environmental policy ( SNRE ); and Stacey Braverman, Law School. The title of their winning project is "Building Resilience: Remediation Options for Minimizing Risk on Coastal Brownfield Development in light of Global Climate Change."
"Building in [global climate change] resilience to coastal brownfield sites can increase a site's insurability as well as its long-term sustainability," the students' wrote. "Remediation techniques must be evaluated carefully based on short- and long-term costs and feasibility, but there are a plethora of viable options that will help reduce risk and keep insurance costs manageable."
In the paper, the team identified climate change risks for the South End, a peninsula extending into the Long Island Sound, and developed alternatives for brownfield redevelopment to adapt to the most significant risks: rising sea levels and greater frequency and intensity of coastal storms.
The team outlined three scenarios for coastal brownfield remediation, with each embracing progressively higher levels of risk based upon how "resilient" the approach to planning and design was. Those levels of resilience range from letting the site go undeveloped and remain unused ( low ) to enlarging ecological buffers such as wetlands ( moderate ) to creating extensive on-site earthen barriers, monitoring wells and soil removal ( high ).
For governments and other landowners trying to decide whether to develop coastal brownfields - land that fronts a stream or other body of water, but which is mostly now dormant because of past chemical contamination - the scenarios offer a roadmap on how to build resilience, and therefore flexibility, into their projects.
"Consideration of capital costs and cost of human lives, as well as the ongoing costs of barrier maintenance need to be weighed carefully," the students wrote. "Brownfield developers, in partnership with city planners, insurers and other stakeholders, may need to consider radically new development plans that incorporate resilience and remediation into their long-term plans. In that way, they will address the effects of [global climate change] on our coastal brownfield sites and the cities in which they are located."
The Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute and the College of Engineering sponsored the award, which was given at a ceremony in March. The first-place team received $400. Two other teams were awarded Honorable Mention certificates and $100.
For more information, contact Kevin Merrill Director of Communications School of Natural Resources and Environment email@example.com O: 734.936.2447 C: 734.417.7392
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