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Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief Benefits, Applications, and Opportunities of Natural Infrastructure Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief Natural infrastructure is the practice of using naturally WELCOMING REMARKS AND CONTEXT occurring aspects of the landscape and/or nature In welcoming participants, S. Jack Hu (UGA) recognized based solutions that use or imitate natural processes the value of bringing together experts from the higher (e.g., wetlands, living shorelines, municipal green education, industry, government, and nonprofit sectors infrastructure) to support natural hazard resilience, to discuss how natural infrastructure can mitigate climate change adaptation, and other benefits to people climate change and other hazards. âThis workshop and ecosystems. Recognition of the multiple benefits reflects the fact that solutions to large and complex of natural âgreenâ infrastructure has increased over societal problems require expertise from many different the past several decades, used alone or in combination disciplines. Interdisciplinary collaborations are key,â Hu with built âgrayâ infrastructure solutions, such as said. seawalls and levees. Yet many potential opportunities remain untapped. On May 10â11, 2022, the Resilient Planning committee chair Hussam Mahmoud (Colorado America program at the National Academies of Sciences, State University) outlined the workshop goal to explore Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) the benefits, applications, and opportunities of natural convened a workshop to explore opportunities to link the infrastructure to advance and mainstream solutions in benefits of natural infrastructure across geographic scales public and private engineering practice. He acknowledged and multiple objectives. Sponsored by the U.S. Army the need to look at the tradeoffs between sustainability, Corps of Engineers (USACE) and hosted by the Institute alignment between competing priorities, and resilience at for Resilient Infrastructure Systems at the University different scales and the variety of methods and settings of Georgia (UGA), the hybrid workshop was targeted to to consider in decision making (Figure 1). Mahmoud the engineering community, as well as scientists, policy explained the committee structured its agenda around makers, planners, and others involved with designing, four themes: (1) application of natural infrastructure; (2) developing, and funding natural infrastructure.1 elements of implementation; (3) making timely progress; 1 The agenda, speaker biographies, presentations, and recordings can be and (4) syncing with policies. found at https://www.nationalacademies.org/event/05-10-2022/work- shop-on-benefits-applications-and-opportunities-of-natural-infra- structure. September 2022 | 1
FIGURE 1 Natural infrastructure in different settings. SOURCE: Hussam Mahmoud, workshop presentation, May 10, 2022. Todd Bridges (USACE) set the context for why the agency tools for modeling, documents benefits of NBS, conducts sponsored the workshop. âWe live in a multi-hazard benefit-cost analyses, and supports first-of-their-kind world,â he pointed out where human-made and natural field applications. EWN led a 5-year effort to develop hazards occur in different combinations and sequences. guidance for flood risk management, but, he noted, even This complexity calls for systems thinking, rather than the guidanceâs more than 1,000 pages âcannot answer the single-purpose projects that characterized the every question nor should it.â4 Rather than an âeither/ 20th century, he continued. Bridges called attention to orâ choice between natural and structural engineering, President Bidenâs April 2022 executive order (EO 14072) Bridges reflected on the value of combining solutions for a that includes a section on nature-based solutions (NBS).2 particular context. He asked participants to consider how to From an engineering perspective, he noted that while make stepwise progress to develop natural infrastructure in some engineers say they need to see detailed technical combination with conventional infrastructure. standards and guidance to implement NBS, an American Society of Civil Engineers past-president has commented Providing a big-picture perspective, Gerry Galloway, Jr. that engineering judgment, beyond standards, is a (University of Maryland) recalled discussing the value of hallmark of the profession. âWe need guidance,â Bridges natural systems and wetlands more than 40 years ago concurred, but also urged that the lack of published code and the related concepts that have developed over the and standards not hold back innovation. decades.5 He noted the initial ecological focus has According to Bridges, USACEâs Engineering with Nature broadened to encompass economic, environmental, and (EWN) initiative provides an opportunity to develop social benefits. He called for action to use natural and intentional alignment between natural and engineering nature-based features (NNBF), rather than reports that processes. EWN produces non-technical materials to spark 3 conclude âfurther study is needed.â Barriers to action conversation and new ideas. It also advances technical 4 International Guidelines on Natural and Nature-Based Features for 2 In particular, Section 4 of EO 14072 is entitled: âDeploy- Flood Risk Management, see https://ewn.erdc.dren.mil/?page_id=4351. ing Nature Based Solutions to Tackle Climate Change and 5 In addition to ânatural infrastructure,â Galloway called attention to Enhance Resilience.â The executive order can be found at https:// related concepts mentioned in the International Guidelines for Natural www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/04/27/2022-09138/ and Nature-Based Features for Flood Risk Management, including nat- strengthening-the-nations-forests-communities-and-local-economies. ural and nature-based features, green infrastructure, and building with 3 For more information on EWN, see https://ewn.erdc.dren.mil/. nature, and others. September 2022 | 2
include overcoming skepticism that NNBF take too long Theme 1: Keynote for effectiveness, cannot handle major hazards, vary Mike Donahue (AECOM) shared examples of problems in performance, or require too much land. Uncertainty that natural infrastructure can help solve through such about hydrologic conditions, land use, and standards methods as beneficial use of dredged material, living are raised as an impediment, yet, he commented, shorelines, marsh and wetland creation, mangrove uncertainty affects all development. Other challenges forests, and barrier islands. What these projects have in include lack of understanding within agencies, lack of common, he said, citing Resources for Future, is they local interest to provide pressure to implement NNBF, ârely on services produced by ecosystems, often utilizing and silos that impede more comprehensive funding and natural landscapes to minimize flood damages, purify implementation. Examples of NNBF in use include on and store water, and reduce urban stormwater runoff.â9 the Mississippi River, the Yolo Bypass in California, and Donahue said infrastructure improvements are not Sponge Cities in China. 6 keeping pace with needs. He stressed that, âit is not an either/or proposition. Conventional infrastructure has its Galloway reflected on a recent study on climate-resilient place, augmented by NBS.â infrastructure that stresses interdependencies within and across systems.7 From his work internationally, Natural infrastructure represents a $40 billion annual he reported a move to deal with climate change at the market, he estimated. âOne personâs waste is anotherâs watershed level, across entire river basins, not individual treasure,â he added. âIn some regions, dredged material projects; understand the importance of uncertainty; build is a âwasteâ product, which in other regions it is valued resilient communities with social and gender equity as for land rebuilding, coastal protection, and ecological goals; and strengthen resilient security for vulnerable and restoration.â Donahueâs case studies highlighted AECOM marginalized groups. NNBF has been and must continue coastline, riverine, and urban projects. Among challenges to be integral to water resource management, applied in a and opportunities, he listed the importance of education systems approach, better communicated to the public, and for clients and practitioners, formalized standards of receive full endorsement (not just weak support) by policy performance and costs, documentation, and incentives. makers, he stated. He noted the consequences of inaction, He also noted multiple sources of federal funding, such as for national security if military installations on including the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs the east and Gulf Coasts become unavailable because of Act (IIJA).10 climate change impacts. Drawing on a baseball analogy, Theme 1: Panel and Discussion Galloway closed, âNature bats last.â8 Providing a district-level perspective, Edward Brauer (USACE) said practitioners need tools and guidance to THEME 1: APPLICATION OF NATURAL INFRASTRUCTUREâ CONTEXT, FEATURES, AND BENEFITS do more natural infrastructure (NI). That said, each In introducing the first panel, planning committee NI project is unique and constantly evolving, making member Paul Freedman (LimnoTech) commented up-to-date guidance for all NI projects a challenge. that nature has shown its resiliency for millions of He also related that a common concern is how to get years. âWhy not take those lessons learned?â he asked a project through review if it does not follow current rhetorically. technical guidance or has no applicable guidance at all. To overcome guidance challenges, he identified the 6 âSponge citiesâ use parkland, green roofs, and other measures to value of partnerships, especially when stakeholders manage urban flooding. For more information, see Chan et al. (2018). âSponge City in ChinaâA breakthrough of planning and flood risk man- push for innovation; a community of practitioners; case agement in the urban context. Land Use Policy, 76: 772-778. https://doi. studies and other resources to inform design; trust in org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.03.005. 7 Hill et al. (2019). Ready for Tomorrow: Seven Strat- egies for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure. Hoover 9 Resources for the Future. Natural Infrastructure. https://www.rff.org/ Institution. https://www.hoover.org/research/ topics/adaptation-and-resilience/natural-infrastructure/. ready-tomorrow-seven-strategies-climate-resilient-infrastructure. 10 The full text of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 8 i.e., natural phenomena can occur in ways that are beyond human 3684) can be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/ control. house-bill/3684/text. September 2022 | 3
engineering judgment; and pilot projects. He also pointed reduction depends on topography, vegetation, and storm to leadershipâs willingness to try new approaches. characteristics.12 Tomiczekâs and her colleaguesâ damage assessments in the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma Tools are important, but Brauer warned about found that residential properties with mangrove shorelines overreliance on them, given real-world complexity. experienced less damage than similar properties without EWN has provided technical support and connected mangrove shorelines.13 The challenge has been quantifying practitioners, such as through a website to share performance metrics. They created a physical model experiences and information. He also noted the USACE and conducted a LiDAR characterization of the project River Engineering Working Group envisions the area, and determined the drag coefficient under various overlapping of engineering and nature themes to remain wave conditions. She suggested something akin to the relevant in the future. Brauer shared several riverine Moody diagram for common engineering practice be case studies that involved multiple partners working developed to support NNBF.14 Tomiczek concluded that together in the nationâs âinner coast,â the river systems field observations and reduced- and full-scale physical throughout the interior regions of the country. The cases model experiments show the potential of red mangroves included modeling techniques and pilot projects to re- as effective NNBF solutions for coastal protection, with create habitat features, a project at Dogtooth Bend on the ongoing tests to assess the impacts from the laboratory Mississippi River, and environmental pool management to the field. She commented that her students are excited to modify dam operations. about learning and implementing NNBF. Hollie Schmidt (Jacobs) presented about the need for Launching the discussion, Freedman asked how to resiliency and sustainability, using Tyndall Air Force Base broaden acceptance for NBS. Brauer stressed a role for (TAFB) as an example. Challenging the âbusiness-as- case studies. Donahue called for education because an usualâ focus of physical infrastructure at most military educated client will give a private firm the opportunity installations, the TAFB rebuild after Hurricane Michael to present NBS alternatives. Challenging the status focused on the health and wellness of âthe people who quo requires showing how NBS is equal or superior to enable our national security,â she said. Her team developed conventional solutions, said Schmidt. Tomiczek added numerous business cases to prioritize the interaction of the the need for research on managing risks and tradeoffs. natural and built environments. An increase of 23 percent in initial costs would save more than $90 million over In response to participantsâ questions about costs, 30 years and more than double the non-financial scoring Donahue favored looking at long-term operations and factors of resiliency, sustainability, and smart systems. An maintenance (O&M) beyond capital costs. Schmidt called important component at Tyndall and elsewhere, Schmidt for a holistic circular economy strategy that considers said, is âmyth-busting,â for example countering the cost avoidance. Tomiczek added a lifecycle analysis claims that nature-based infrastructure will require more could show higher upfront costs but lower O&M costs, maintenance, cost too much, present a security concern, or increased self-recovery after storms, and other benefits. restrict future options. Jacobs is working on several other coastal projects, developing typologies of coastal resilience, More broadly, Freedman pointed to the usual focus on and sharing design and development guidance developed building costs but less quantification of other benefits. for Tyndall. 11 12 Piercy et al. (2021). Coastal wetlands and tidal flats. Chapter 10 in International Guidelines on Natural and Nature-Based Features for Flood Mangroves are a strong option for coastal restoration, Risk Management. https://ewn.erdc.dren.mil/?page_id=4351. 13 Tomiczek et al. (2020). Rapid damage assessments of shorelines stated Tori Tomiczek (U.S. Naval Academy). She and structures in the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma. Natural Hazard Review, 21(1). https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/(asce) referred to recent international guidelines on coastal nh.1527-6996.0000349. wetlands and tidal flats, in particular that wave height 14 A Moody diagram is a graphical method used by engineers to calculate friction, which can then be used to determine pres- sure drop or flow rate. See https://www.thermal-engineering.org/ 11 See https://www.tyndallifs.com/. what-is-moody-diagram-definition/. September 2022 | 4
Bauer said these types of analyses require money that moderated the discussion on the workshopâs second is usually unavailable. Galloway urged consideration of theme. hidden beneficiaries usually not at the table, such as Theme 2: Keynote vulnerable communities and downstream populations. Jenniffer Santos HernÃ¡ndez (University of Puerto Rico Public support can contribute to or stop a project, several RÃo Piedras) drew from her research to discuss the presenters noted. To Schmidt, the biggest obstacle is risk role of bottom-up, applied planning research and, in aversion, and she suggested youth as strong advocates particular, ensuring community leaders are involved. and the usefulness of case studies. Despite case studies, As co-lead of San Juanâs Urban Resilience to Extreme a participant commented, some people will not engage Sustainability Research Network, she was facilitating in NBS without guidance. Tomiczek noted engineering is stakeholder workshops after Hurricane Maria when a based on experience and observation; maybe the guidance sequence of earthquakes further exposed communities should be a set of principles and practices. Donahue to the uncertainty of climate change. Furthermore, she suggested a requirement or standard operating procedure said, Puerto Rico is recovering from disaster in the midst that both conventional and NBS are considered. Brauer of a debt adjustment plan that greatly limits resources. said a key to more widespread NBS adoption is to She differentiated between restoration, rebuilding, and quantify benefits. Freedman urged embedding NBS what should be the goalârecovery.15 Rather than look at throughout the engineering curriculum, as is done for ânaturalâ hazards as isolated events, she underscored communications skills. dealing with systemic problems created as part of Theme 1: Breakout Groups development. Sharing examples, she said, âUltimately, In-person and virtual breakout groups responded we are addressing sustainability questions. We canât to several prompt questions. Scott Pippin (UGA) compartmentalize different hazards.â reported his group identified innovation as a core issue. Braden Foster (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) noted Working with communities takes time, she reminded the his group argued the importance of considering the group. Processes of social change are slow and funding is interaction between all natural infrastructure benefits, difficult. True representation requires interviews, focus keeping long-term sustainability in mind. Mindy groups, and surveys. Transformative change is nonlinear, Simmons (USACE) said her group suggested aligning she stressed, which goes against the tendency to identify a funding sources and understanding the âhot buttonsâ problem, find a solution, and proceed. She also noted the for different stakeholders. Rob Lammers (Central value of transformative action research and of listening to Michigan University)âs group suggested building on and working with local researchers and engineers. societyâs increased demands for access to nature. Emily Theme 2: Panel and Discussion Corwin (Conservation International) reported her Moving the needle from unequal protection toward group acknowledged the era of POP (public owns the leveling the landscape in communities of color motivates project) versus DAD (decide, announce, defined). Dave the Stormwater Infrastructure, Resilience, and Justice Hampton (LimnoTech) said his group urged a reframing (SIRJ) Lab, said Marccus Hendricks (University of of expectations and perceived benefits that often Maryland). The environmental justice and social disadvantage NBS. For example, he posed, âWhy should vulnerability literature has shown that laws, regulations, natural infrastructure be expected to do something and social processes disparately impact infrastructure different than we ask of traditional infrastructure?â and communities.16 Sharing a conceptual framework to THEME 2: ELEMENTS FOR IMPLEMENTATIONâPHYSICAL, 15 Dynes, R.R., and E.L. Quarantelli. (2008). A brief note on disaster ECOLOGICAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS restoration, reconstruction, and recovery: A comparative note using post-earthquake observations. Working paper. http://udspace.udel.edu/ Planning committee members Hans Louis-Charles handle/19716/3058. (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Eileen 16 Examples cited by Hendricks included: Taylor, D. (2014). Toxic Com- munities. New York: NYU Press. D.S.K. Thomas et al. (eds.). (2013). Social Shader (American Rivers) introduced the speakers and Vulnerability to Disasters. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Bullard, R. (1994). September 2022 | 5
connect social and neighborhood factors with hazard success stories about natural and hybrid solutions to use risks, exposure, and recovery, SIRJ uses a social lens 17 in these areas. in what has been largely studied as a physical process. In addition to exposing disparities, SIRJ partners with Julie Beagle (USACE) said the climate crisis led her to communities, for example to develop master plans. join the agencyâs San Francisco District last year to Especially in urban areas, a hybridized approach may be scale up NBS in the region, especially in marginalized needed, Hendricks added.18 communities that flood most regularly. As her USACE colleagues described (see above), she sees EWN as a way Hendricks concluded that equity in infrastructure to leverage natural and economic processes to deliver includes procedural, distributive, and restorative multiple benefits. Challenges to wider use within USACE justice; the built environment must be recognized as include limits of the federal standard; lack of multi- a continuation of social circumstances; infrastructure benefit approaches, budgeting, and related issues; dynamics impact risk exposure and ecological and public knowledge gaps and inability to measure benefits health outcomes; and participation and partnerships are equitably; top-down and internally driven approaches; needed for a more healthy, just, and resilient society. and institutional inertia. However, she said, momentum is growing to be more strategic across projects with EWN. Jeff Opperman (World Wildlife Fund) discussed scaling Doing so requires building multidisciplinary teams and up natural infrastructure from accidental models to providing training and knowledge development. Beagle intentional use. He noted the historic roots of natural shared examples of projects that are benefitting from infrastructure. After the 1927 Mississippi River flood, EWN approaches. She also called attention to changes in USACE developed the River and Tributaries Project. USACEâs Comprehensive Documentation of Benefits20 and After multiple levee failures in the Sacramento Valley, the need to grow partnerships. the Yolo and Sutter bypasses were created. Although not the original goal, ecological restoration and wildlife During the discussion, Beagle raised the need for long- habitat creation were other benefits. Opperman noted term and regional monitoring. Hendricks acknowledged that in these examples, flood managers drew on finding land for and maintaining NBS is hard, especially analysis and experience to reconnect large areas of in marginalized communities in densely populated areas. the natural floodplainâinterventions comparable to Research and practice are needed to find the balance natural infrastructure projects today. As two examples of between green infrastructure and affordable housing. institutional support, he noted Room for the River in the A participant raised equity concerns when land must Netherlands and multi-benefit flood management 19 be purchased for nature-based infrastructure. Beagle noted small-space solutions should also be considered. to guide new investments in California. Looking ahead, Hendricks added âthinking bigâ in dense areas, such as climate change will increase flood risks globally, he said, with green roofs and other assets. and rivers in many of the highest-risk areas are not subject to legal regulations. Opperman urged sharing Most community engagement strategies are insufficient, Santos HernÃ¡ndez said. Public hearings involve few Overcoming racism in environmental decisionmaking. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 36(4): 10-44. S. Van Zandt et people and rarely address representation. In addition to al. (2012). Mapping social vulnerability to enhance housing and neigh- training and skills for agency teams, Santos HernÃ¡ndez borhood resilience. Housing Policy Debate, 22(1):29â55. S. Wilson et al. (2008). How planning and zoning contribute to inequitable development, also observed the need for intellectual humility, neighborhood health, and environmental injustice. Environmental Justice, 1(4):211â216. rather than coming from the outside with âthe perfect 17 Hendricks, M., and S. Van Zandt. (2021). Unequal protection visited: solution.â Hendricks said from a planning perspective, Planning for environmental justice, hazard vulnerability, and critical infrastructure in communities of color. Environmental Justice. https:// mitigation of âdisaster displacementâ is necessary in doi.org/10.1089/env.2020.0054. 18 Dowtin, A., and M. Hendricks. (2020). Gray, green, and brown for blue: areas with large economic disparities before mitigating Historical perspectives and future directions toward a hybrid approach for resilient stormwater management. IMPACT Magazine. 19 For more information about Room for the River, see https://www. 20 See https://planning.erdc.dren.mil/toolbox/library/FactSheets/Compre- dutchwatersector.com/news/room-for-the-river-programme. hensiveBenefitsFactsheet_March2021.pdf. September 2022 | 6
climate-induced disaster.21 Ensuring residents who are indigenous to the space have a social, economic, and political stake, such as through community land trusts and mixed housing stock, are emerging promising practices, he reported. Santos HernÃ¡ndez suggested better documentation of community land trusts and relocation as an opportunity for research. To build trust between communities and agencies, she said time and local expertise are important, and save money in the long run. Hendricks warned against superficial and misleading levels of participation. FIGURE 2 Day 1 visual wrap-up. SOURCE: Brett Wylie, Workshop Presentation, May 10, 2022. Theme 2: Breakout Sessions In considering physical, ecological, social, and economic THEME 3: MAKING TIMELY PROGRESSâNEEDS FOR DESCRIPTIVE elements when implementing natural infrastructure, METHODS, MANUALS, AND STANDARDS Todd Bridges reported his group recognized the As planning committee member Brian Bledsoe (UGA) need for legal and financial innovations, in addition noted, a limitation to wider use of natural infrastructure to engineering. They thought a workshop to bring is the perceived lack of standards and guidance for finance, legal, engineering, and scientific experts practitioners. He called attention to the American Society would be useful. A group led by Dipanjana Maulik of Civil Engineers (ASCE) initiative on sustainable (not (Engineering Department, West Bengal, India) discussed just natural) infrastructure with performance-based decision support systems to provide real-time, field- standards as a grand challenge.22 He and committee level data algorithms with robust forecasting and member Oluponmile Olonilua (Texas Southern feedback systems. Sara Burns (Ducks Unlimited) University) moderated a session on how to address these reported her groupâs push to consider systems-of- issues. systems approaches and to look ahead, especially for disaster recovery funds. Eligibilities and guidance for Theme 3: Keynote these funds should incentivize planning for human Emily Corwin (Conservation International) proposed health and safety, the group suggested. Robert Prager a multi-disciplinary collaboration to create â21st- (Strategic Value Solutions) related community buy-in century engineering guidelines to meet our 21st-century was a common theme in his group. Better data on non- challenges.â Given the lack of accepted norms and coastal communities are needed, as are inspirational standards for natural infrastructure, the challenge is frameworks and branding to allow people to imagine to increase the experience, familiarity, and confidence possibilities, he added. of engineers, developers, and others in the reliability and application of green-gray approaches, she stated. Wrapping up the first day, Brett Wylie (Jacobs) shared Moreover, the International Institute for Sustainable a visual summary of highlights. He noted participantsâ Development calculated substantial savings from recognition of diverse solutions when designing for nature-based infrastructure.23 Barriers to greater a dynamic future in a multi-hazard world (Figure 2), use of gray-green infrastructure include lack of caution against an overreliance on models, and calls for confidence in its reliability and inequitable availability collaboration and action. of technical knowledge and data, Corwin said. While acknowledging few accepted engineering standards for nature-based infrastructure exist, many guides and 21 The Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda defines disaster displacement as âsituations where people are forced to leave their homes or places 22 For more information, see https://www.asce.org/communities/ habitual residence as a result of a disaster or in order to avoid the impact institutes-and-technical-groups/sustainability/sustainability-roadmap. of an immediate and foreseeable natural hazard.â See https://disasterdis- 23 For more information, see https://www.iisd.org/articles/ placement.org/the-platform/key-definitions. nature-based-infrastructure. September 2022 | 7
resources provide information to begin, including the urged a hub to address barriers and increase global International Guidelines on Flood Risk Management implementation of natural infrastructure. discussed earlier and two outputs developed by the Global Theme 3: Panel and Discussion Green-Gray Community of Practice: Practical Guide to Bruce Ellingwood (Colorado State University [CSU]) said Implementing Green-Gray Infrastructure and Mangrove- he agrees with Corwin but with a different perspective Seawall Engineering Guidance.24 Many engineers who are as a structural engineer. He explained building codes âearly adoptersâ and/or feel comfortable using best are specific about some natural hazards but less so practices and principles are fully engaged with natural about others, especially related to climate change. infrastructure, Corwin said, while others will continue He stressed that uncertainty characterizes engineersâ to hesitate without more standards and guidance. To decision-making. Uncertainty leads to risk, which can involve more engineers, it is important to continue be managed but not eliminated. While standards for learning-by-doing, recognizing that flexibility is often traditional engineering approaches also have limitations, required and that competent engineers will innovate he commented that uncertainties related to performance, by applying and improving upon best practices and cost, and other factors make engineering using natural principles. infrastructure more difficult in building a business case. To strengthen evidence-based decision-making, which is Ellingwood supported Corwinâs idea of an engineering one of the 10 principles of the International Good Practice hub. For engineers to become involved and take on the Principles for Sustainable Infrastructure from the United liability of engineering in the public interest, he also Nations Environment Programme, Corwin encouraged pointed to a performance-based engineering (PBE) increased monitoring and data-sharing.25 She proposed framework, which he described as a mix of traditional a data-sharing platform, or Natural Infrastructure and innovative methods with peer review as an important Engineering Hub, across disciplines and geographies. ingredient. Risk across the lifecycle can be modeled Built by and for users, it could crowd-source information to build the case for public investment. Ellingwood on technology, performance, and cost to inform discussed these concepts as they relate to climate descriptive methods; link to and provide consistent variability and community resilience. key performance indicators; and enable sharing of successes and failures. The International Stormwater Ducks Unlimitedâs engineering staff have been involved BMP Database,26 which has been critical in advancing in projects that illustrate the points made by Corwin the application of green stormwater infrastructure, could and Ellingwood, said Ellen Herbert (Ducks Unlimited). serve as a model, she posited. A hub could close and As a turnkey organization, Ducks Unlimited identifies shorten the feedback loop between discovery, application, locations, forms partnerships, and is involved in and advancing practice, and strengthen pre-competitive permitting and construction in natural infrastructure collaboration. The resulting methods, manuals, and projects that manage hazards and provide other benefits, standards could become available to practitioners around such as the Sonoma Land Trust and the Richland Creek the globe. Questions include how to fund implementation Wildlife Management Area. of a hub, who might host it, and how to require or incentivize stakeholders to provide input and use it. In Herbert delineated between performance-based and the absence of traditional engineering standards, Corwin prescriptive standards. She noted learning-by-doing can happen through leveraging networks and investing 24 For Green-Gray, see https://www.conservation.org/docs/default- in monitoring. She called for convening stakeholders, source/publication-pdfs/ci-green-gray-practical-guide-v08.pdf. For information about Conservation Internationalâs work with man- developing process-based standards, identifying common groves in Guyana, see https://www.conservation.org/gcf/projects/ unlocking-the-potential-of-guyana-s-inland-and-mangrove-forests. tools and frameworks, and sharing learning. As a model 25 For more information, see https://www.unep.org/resources/publication/ from another sector, Herbert cited the Field to Market international-good-practice-principles-sustainable-infrastructure. Â For more information, see https://bmpdatabase.org/. September 2022 | 8
process developed for agricultural sustainability.27 they should be adaptable and not handcuff engineers, he To develop process-based standards for natural concluded. infrastructure, she suggested establishing outcome goals based on design and scale, defining system boundaries, In discussion, Bledsoe observed different understandings and estimating trajectories of function over time. Bledsoe of what constitutes a standard, from a general âconsider concurred that natural infrastructure must be considered thisâ to a four-inch binder. A participant noted the move not just as âthings in space, but as processes over time.â away from prescriptive standards puts more burden on entities that issue permits to evaluate the work proposed. Ram Mohan (Anchor QEA; Texas A&M University) Corwin agreed permitting is more difficult but opined reflected on highlights of the previous presentations: that performance-based standards should also include nature heals best over the long term; challenges are investing in post-project monitoring and documentation. evolving; case studies exist for nature-based structures Ellingwood suggested giving the move from prescription in coastal and fluvial systems, although maybe not to performance âtime to work.â As an analogy, enough information on failures; learning-by-doing performance-based standards to deal with seismic events and adaptive management require flexibility; and a lack became accepted over several decades. Thus, natural of uniform standards or guidelines. Based on his own infrastructure performance standards might be more work developing guidelines for shoreline protection, acceptable in the near future. he cautioned against total standardization for nature- based infrastructure because of the myriad of variable, Olonilua asked the engineers on the panel how to dynamic situations. In applying NBS, he noted the need involve the public. Herbert commented on instances of to look at the time horizon for the intended design communitiesâ fear as well as overenthusiasm for natural and clear communication about expected results. He infrastructure projects. Corwin advocated for further also pointed out that using performance rather than exploration of how citizen scientists can co-create, prescriptive design assumes a certain level of contracting monitor, and manage projects. A participant encouraged and design expertise. A key element is how to assess engineers to connect with people to better understand if a proposal meets minimal standards, which is easier what they deal with in their everyday lives. .Mohan with prescriptions. âWe know how to evaluate structural urged outreach as part of a projectâs goals and objectives. benefits, but not other benefits,â he said. Rather than just explain risks and uncertainties, he suggested building excitement in a local community, for System-wide projects may need decades to fully show example by involving students in baseline monitoring. impacts and benefits, so maybe a phased approach Ellingwood said several testbeds at CSU are using the should be encouraged, he said. Social and environmental âroadmapâ in the National Institute of Standards and justice aspects must be considered in all projects and Technology (NIST)âs Community Resilience Planning across the long term. The initial cost for a project may Guide.28 be low, but who pays over time, especially in uncertain, dynamic situations, he posed. Regulators may also Several participants asked about learning-by-doing. impose hurdles, such as about the re-use of dredged Herbert suggested accelerating the process for successful materials. Mohan said he supports the concept of a pilots based on basic first principles and then modeling hub but commented on the need to include innovative performance under a range of conditions. Corwin approaches, provide enough data to make the hub robust, suggested designing projects as experiments to answer and share information on under-performing projects and research and performance questions. Mohan noted corrective actions. Standards and guidance are useful natural infrastructure projects may involve defining a to provide basic information and control liability, but broad band and timeframe of success. Bledsoe reflected 28 For more information, see https://www.nist.gov/ 27 For more information, see https://fieldtomarket.org/. community-resilience/planning-guide. September 2022 | 9
this paradigm shift requires training the next generation with decarbonization prioritized. Also, legal and policy and infusing it into the mainstream of engineering guidance for local governments is critical. practice through education at all levels. Theme 4: Keynote As described by Shana Jones (UGA), modern Studying failure is valuable, but organizations do not environmental law embodies cooperative federalism want to share failures, a participant observed. Bledsoe with both carrots and sticks at the local, state, and agreed a critical step is creating a safe space. Mohan federal levels. Local jurisdictions in coastal areas, for suggested maintaining confidentiality and establishing example, must piece together multiple laws administered labs and experimental spaces to evaluate concepts. by multiple agencies. Governments, industry, private Theme 3: Breakout Sessions property owners, nongovernmental organizations, and Breakout groups considered the mix of needed qualitative others all have interests to meet. Jones reported on a and quantitative methods and standards. Michelle Covey National Science Foundation-funded project to examine (UGA) said her group stressed that complex systems need shoreline stabilization laws and policies in seven multiple measures and standards. They also observed states (Florida to Delaware).29 The study documented some expectations set for natural infrastructure are the multiple values and interests proliferating across not set for conventional infrastructure, for example the states; erosion is the primary factor guiding most the expectations related to environmental justice. Dave stabilization structure choices; armored shorelines are Hamptonâs group suggested managing uncertainty could almost always held to a lesser standard than nature- be cast as an opportunity, with shorter time horizons based living shorelines under approval processes; and for better predictions and addressing stakeholder connectivity in armored areas, rather than ecological concerns. Dan Walker (EA Engineering; University of connectivity, is embedded in many regulatory Maryland) related his group had a âholistic discussionâ frameworks. Many laws and regulations come from an to figure out which tools, especially quantitative tools, era when environmental protection focused on a single to develop to meet future needs. Dipanjana Maulikâs resource or individual threat, she added. In addition, a group agreed to have predominantly quantitative strong need exists to influence shoreline stabilization methods with qualitative methods for contextualizing decision-making before the permitting process begins, risk and public communication. The group called for as neighbors and contractors greatly influence property widespread knowledge sharing. Charles Van Rees (UGA) owner preferences. Planning and regulatory systems said his group sees pilot projects important, but warned must better recognize the varied dynamics of natural about putting everything on hold while waiting for the systems and the complexities of human demands on results, given each project is different in any event. them. Trevor Meckley (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA])âs group suggested reviewing Highlighting the history of USACEâs policies, Jones noted existing standards to consider how they apply to natural the six principles for water resources planning and infrastructure. Rather than engineer âasset by asset,â the evaluation contained in the Principles, Requirements, and group called for corridor-wide planning. Guidelines (PR&G). Despite stated support for natural infrastructure, she noted the need to update relevant THEME 4: SYNCHING WITH POLICIESâREQUIRED EFFORTS AND polices, such as engineering regulations, circulars, PARTNERSHIPS TO SCALE UP and manuals, because âat the project level, natural In launching the last panel, planning committee infrastructure is still not implemented at scale.â She also member David Waggonner (Waggonner & Ball, LLC) 29 For a table of relevant laws and policies by state, see https://www. noted infrastructure must be designed and built for the vims.edu/ccrm/research/climate_change/adaptation/nsf-2/_documents/ state-by-state-living-shoreline-regulations-112821.pdf. See also S. Jones everyday and chronic, not just for catastrophes, and and J.S. Pippin. 2021. Stabilizing the edge; Southeastern and Mid-Atlan- at all scales, in both urban and edge conditions, and tic Shorescapes Facing Sea-Level Rise, Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, 46(S). https://doi.org/10.7916/cjel.v46iS.8003. September 2022 | 10
urged reconsideration of the floodwall reliance in the projects, which would provide another incentive. She Miami-Dade Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management also recommended removing difficulties in permitting Feasibility Study30 to deploy the NBS favored by to achieve âregulatory parityâ between natural and developers, environmentalists, and community members. conventional projects. She noted property owners More broadly, Jones urged âshorescapeâ decision- can become more interested through policies such as making rather than stopping at a jurisdictional or other permitting fee waivers or tax incentives. human-imposed boundary. Examples of partnerships to accomplish this include the South Atlantic Salt Marsh Second, looking at USACE, Ritter reminded the group that Initiative and EWN for Climate Resilience on Military 31 EWN principles can apply anywhere in a project lifecycle. Installations. USACE has broad authority to make modifications to existing projects, which Ritter commented is currently Theme 4: Panel and Discussion underutilized. Pending implementation of the Principles, Jessica Ritter (National Wildlife Foundation [NWF]) Requirements, and Guidelines represents a âbig highlighted natural infrastructure partnerships with opportunity to flip the script,â Ritter said. She urged which NWF is involved. She said she has seen progress looking more holistically at watersheds, first considering and welcomed the attention to natural infrastructure natural infrastructure options or hybrid solutions, only at the federal level, including at USACE, but noted a then moving on to structural solutions when nature- void between support and ground-level action. She based or hybrid solutions are insufficient. commented on a negative feedback loop present within USACE and the field more broadly, in which there is Sarah Murdock (The Nature Conservancy) continued to a reluctance to be the first to try new and innovative discuss federal policy making. Consideration of climate approaches, yet examples are needed to build confidence impacts when making investments and incentives and experience. Go-to solutions are still often single- for natural infrastructure across agencies unlock purpose projects, which she attributed to a cultural resources and opportunities, as does the Infrastructure challenge and policy dynamic between USACE and Investment and Jobs Act. To operationalize investments nonfederal project sponsors. If a community requests a in natural infrastructure through these opportunities, levee, for example, that is what the agency delivers rather Murdock called attention to challenges to more easily than proactively suggest other solutions. Recognizing and accurately value natural infrastructure to capture the importance of local cost concerns, Ritter offered two the full suite of ecosystem service benefits. She added areas of recommendations to break negative feedback this need ties in with updating USACEâ PR&G and how loops. USACE conducts benefit-cost analyses. There is not a full capturing of all benefits from natural infrastructure, First, she suggested, creating policy incentives so Murdock said, adding that single-purpose design and communities ask for natural infrastructure, referring to scoping misses maximizing benefits for other purposes. the Environmental Protection Agencyâs Green Project Additionally, water quality, recreation, aesthetic, and Reserve as an example. USACE could set targets so that a other benefits are hard to translate into dollars, and certain percentage of new projects incorporate a natural she called for qualitative ways to capture such benefits. infrastructure feature by 2030, she posited. The SHORRE Updating the guidelines should be accompanied with (Shoreline Health Oversight, Restoration, Resilience, outreach, training, and education for district-level Corps and Enhancement) Act32 moving through Congress has a staff to aid in the application of any new guidance on provision to lower the nonfederal cost share for these valuation coming out of the PR&G update. 30 For more information, see https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/ MiamiDadeBackBayCSRMFeasibilityStudy/. Agreeing with the need for engineering guidance on 31 For more information, see https://serppas.org/focus-areas/ the performance and effectiveness of NBS, especially south-atlantic-salt-marsh-initiative/. 32 For more information, see https://www.congress.gov/ related to metrics, Murdock warned against striving bill/117th-congress/house-bill/6705?s=1&r=2. September 2022 | 11
for engineering specifications that would apply to all Murdock agreed with the need to place all benefits on a projects. As others during the workshop stated, no one level playing field. She expressed hope that revision of size fits all. âWhat we need is innovation and continued the PR&G could help move in the right direction. Another adaptive management,â she concluded. âWe need need is to address relevant Benefit Cost Analysis policies outside-the-box thinking and creativity.â and discount rates, which do not take into account the benefits of natural infrastructure. She said the current As chief resilience officer, Dale Morris (City of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) discount rate is Charleston) spoke from a local government perspective a huge deterrent.34 Ritter suggested setting targets within dealing with politics, citizens, businesses, tidal creeks, the USACEâs portfolio and depending on a projectâs marshes, voter expectations, and much more. Morris needs. Jones agreed a portfolio target makes sense. When provided background about how his metropolitan Bridges suggested âfor discussionâ setting a minimum area is dealing with compound flooding and sea-level level of 10 percent for natural and social investment in rise. A 2019 analysis identified physical and social every coastal storm risk management project, Morris vulnerabilities, and recent floods that occurred without noted a minimum requirement would have resulted in a direct hurricane hits galvanized community interest. different outcome in the Charleston CSRM. The city spent 25â30 percent of its budget on drainage this year. A 2021 City Comprehensive Plan33 was recently Several participants commented about terminology. adopted with water as the organizing principle, the One suggested the term âbufferâ to explain green first in the nation. Morris summarized development by infrastructure to the public. Lack of clarity around the the city and USACE of the Charleston Peninsula Coastal terms âmitigationâ and âadaptationâ was raised, as Storm Risk Management Study (CSRM). He reported that well as a suggestion about using lifecycle benefit (not stakeholders have reacted that the plan only deals with just cost) analysis. Beagle noted a January 2021 USACE storm surge, and not tidal or stormwater flooding, and memo instructs districts to evaluate for all four accounts, has little in the way of nature-based features. as opposed to basing planning decisions solely on the least-cost option (or the National Economic Development Morris said policy challenges include how to modernize account).35 Tools are needed to do this, she said. She also law so USACE can help coastal communities respond noted the role of multipurpose business lines to address to diverse and compounding flood risks beyond storm challenges of the future. Schmidt urged looking at all surges, and how to better factor analysis of nature- water types in large-scale projects. Ritter added the based features into feasibility alternatives and design importance to break down silos within USACE and across efforts. International efforts can provide experience and other agencies. Waggoner underscored the value of pre- analytical support, he said, as can pilots and learning disaster cases. projects. âWithout increased flexibility on increased flood risk management and a mandate to include natural and In response to a question about strengthening the stateâ nature-base features or hybrid infrastructure, USACE federal interface, Jones said state resilience officers can risks becoming a post-disaster response agency and not help coordinate multiple agencies and jurisdictions. a pre-disaster mitigation agency,â he warned. Murdock noted coordination across state-level agencies unlocks the potential to combine funding, programs, In discussion, a participant questioned whether a and processes. Comprehensive watershed planning minimum investment requirement for nature and that involves stakeholders is a good model, pointing to social elements in all projects would help overcome 34 Discount rates are used to come up with a calculation of the trade- the âstructure-firstâ thinking within USACE, while off between present and future benefits. Calculations of non-mone- tary benefits, such as ecosystem services, can be challenging. The 2021 another said the agency should have the flexibility that discount rates can be found at https://www.energy.gov/sites/default/ other agencies have in considering qualitative benefits. files/2021-04/2021discountrates.pdf. 35 See https://planning.erdc.dren.mil/toolbox/library/MemosandLetters/ ComprehensiveDocumentationofBenefitsinDecisionDocument_5Ja- 33 For more information, see https://www.charlestoncityplan.com/. nuary2021.pdf. September 2022 | 12
Louisiana and Iowa as recent examples, she added. A commented on the need to take action and move forward participant suggested more state voices should be heard (Figure 3). in workshops like this, and that the federal government can incentivize state-level leadership by providing Bledsoe related final thoughts from Gerry Galloway. funds that states can funnel to local communities. Jones Galloway said the presentations and discussions emphasized a need for âpeople capacityâ to work on the highlighted that natural infrastructure is at the point ground across interfaces. There are many impactful local where it should not be an afterthought but instead a full activities but systemic approach to coordinate across partner at the table. âNow is the time to act and not be jurisdictions in a landscape is needed. Collaboration is embarrassed by being pushy,â Galloway said. âNatural extremely important but requires time and resources, infrastructure is ready.â several participants observed. Jones related a concern about capacity expressed to her by federal agency staff who will have to do more consultations under new legislation. âPerhaps this crisis of capacity is an opportunity to introduce new ways of doing things,â she suggested. Ritter urged building back capacity within USACE and other agencies to the greatest extent possible to ensure both thorough and efficient review. Theme 4: Breakout Groups One group reported out on this theme. Robert Prager reported his group urged adapting existing policy to FIGURE 3 Day 2 visual wrap-up. include natural infrastructure, developing an equal SOURCE: Brett Wylie, Workshop Presentation, May 11, 2022. playing field to evaluate different options, and engaging with communities. While not ideal, sometimes it takes a disaster to bring partners together. It is also important to âexpand the conversation and engage the opposition,â to bring more attention to the issue, the group opined. CONCLUDING COMMENTS In sharing graphics to summarize the workshop, Brett Wylie observed that relating complex ideas to non- technical experts may benefit from the format he used, along with other communication tools. Looking across both days, Wylie observed many speakers addressed how USACE can enable and amplify implementation of natural infrastructure. He noted the first day of the workshop concentrated on why use natural infrastructure; the second had healthy dialogue that focused on how. Even without total agreement on the direction and tools, he September 2022 | 13
DISCLAIMER This Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief was prepared by DANIELLE GOLDSMITH, BERNA OZTEKIN- GUNAYDIN, NEGIN SOBHANI, and PAULA WHITACRE as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. The planning committeeâs role was limited to planning the workshop. The statements made are those of the rapporteurs or individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. REVIEWERS To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Workshopâ in Brief was reviewed in draft form by BRIAN BLEDSOE, University of Georgia; SARA BURNS, Ducks Unlimited; JANINE CASTRO, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; DAVE HAMPTON, LimnoTech. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process. PLANNING COMMITTEE The Committee on Benefits, Applications and Opportunities of Natural Infrastructure: A Workshop: HUSSAM NABIL MAHMOUD (Chair), Colorado State University; BRIAN PAUL BLEDSOE, University of Georgia; EILEEN SHADER, American Rivers; HANS LOUIS-CHARLES, Virginia Commonwealth University; JOSEPH DAVID WAGGONNER III, Waggonner & Ball; OLUPONMILE OLONILUA, Texas Southern University; and PAUL L. FREEDMAN, LimnoTech. STAFF DANIELLE GOLDSMITH, Senior Program Assistant; BERNA OZTEKIN-GUNAYDIN, Program Officer; and NEGIN SOBHANI, Director. SPONSOR This workshop was supported by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022.Â Benefits, Applications, and Opportunities of Natural Infrastructure: Proceedings of a Workshopâin Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi. org/10.17226/26660. For additional information regarding the Resilient America Program, visit https://www.nationalacademies.org/ resilient-america. Policy and Global Affairs Copyright 2022 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.