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Building Resilient Infrastructure


Published: May 21, 2018

America’s existing infrastructure hasn’t been built to deal with the natural disasters we’ll face this century. New and replacement infrastructure must be built to be resilient to future climate disruptions. While it may sound costly, the return to building resilient infrastructure will save more money in the long run.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the consequences of not building resilient infrastructure?
  2. Can we minimize risks on our existing infrastructure?
  3. Can America's infrastructure withstand future natural disasters?

Additional Resources

  1. Read “After The Storms Have Passed: Rebuilding With Climate Change In Mind” by Alice Hill.
  2. Read the “Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves 2017 Interim Report: An Independent Study.” 
  3. Alice Hill and Craig Fugate discuss the water infrastructure of Washington DC and the importance of building resilient structures in “Proper Infrastructure Investments Must Account For Climate Change.” 
View Transcript

Recent natural disasters have exposed a critical problem with America’s existing infrastructure: 

our roads, buildings, and highways haven’t been built to be resilient to the natural disasters that we are likely to face this century. 

It’s not just existing infrastructure that needs help; new infrastructure should be built to be resilient to future catastrophes as well. 

Too often the hazards that we experienced in the past guide how new infrastructure is built... 

but it’s critical to consider new and potential threats that could arise in the future. 

Failing to plan for future risks could lead to costly repairs or catastrophic failures, and may reduce the infrastructure’s expected lifespan. 

And when existing roads and bridges are damaged, destroyed, or replaced, they shouldn’t be built back to how they were. 

Instead, they should be built back better than they were originally. 

It may sound expensive, but every dollar we invest in resilient infrastructure today, saves us from spending six dollars in the future. 

That doesn’t mean replacing everything overnight. 

But it does mean embracing a resiliency mindset when building new roads, bridges, or buildings.