Coordinated Resiliency | U.S. Green Building Council
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photo credit: Cecilia Shutters, USGBC

A lot of firsthand accounts have already been written about the snowstorm that brought Atlanta to a standstill at the end of January. So I won’t go into detail about the amount of time we spent in our hotel lobby commiserating with other stranded travelers. Our experience was a mild inconvenience compared to the horror stories that have come out (although the banner image is an actual photo of the line that we stood in at the grocery store — the only open food option).

The reason for the trip to Atlanta, with colleague and Atlanta native Cecilia Shutters, was to meet with USGBC Georgia Chapter Advocacy Committee members and with Georgia state legislators. But, the weather had other plans for us, and the meetings and events that we had lined up were rescheduled for a later date. We did get a chance to meet with chapter members on our last day in Atlanta, so the trip was not a complete loss.

But there was a lot of time to reflect on the Atlanta weather situation. One of the reasons, it seems, for Atlanta’s "snowmageddon" gridlock was a lack of coordination at every level of government. This got me thinking, what does coordination from a resiliency standpoint look like?

There is not much said about intergovernmental coordination in the essays and articles I have read. Intergovernmental coordination is central to disaster response, but how about preventing and mitigating disasters? It is encouraged, but the language that our cities use to promote resilience planning is about what each individual governmental unit can do to mitigate extreme weather events on its own municipal island. Elected officials are asked to look inward and to plan for their community and protect its infrastructure, buildings and citizens from severe weather. But, as the Atlanta metro area learned, it was not enough that each individual community was prepared and “resilient" for the 2.5 inches of snow, but coordination is necessary as well.

I ask these questions, because I don’t know. The concept of resiliency is fairly new to policymakers. But, to throw intergovernmental coordination into the mix creates new levels of complexities for which some elected officials may not have the patience or political will.

Even though the green building movement has defined a role for itself in this move toward resiliency, what can we do to contribute to better coordination in resiliency planning? We want to hear your ideas! Tweet them to @usgbc and @christina_kuo.

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