Reasoning that existing buildings will improve naturally over time when they undergo renovations, the Building Resiliency Task Force (BRTF), in its report to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, is mostly recommending code changes to new construction and major renovations.
"Task force recommendations are intended to minimize interruptions to building functionality while allowing the market to dictate the need to implement resiliency measures," says the report.

But doesn't that make existing buildings and their occupants sitting ducks?

The recommendations, released June 13, come on the heels of a 437-page report issued by the mayor, that recommends nearly $20 billion in post-Sandy changes.

The BRTF only makes 33 proposals for improvements to commercial, multifamily residential, hospitals and one to three-family houses. (The task force, convened by the Urban Green Council, also addresses backup power, safety and planning.)

The contents of the 42-page report represent the consensus of more than 200 volunteers, including the buildings and planning commissioners and other heavy hitters in the design professionals. Most of the ideas expressed have been bandied about in the months since Superstorm Sandy knocked low-lying areas of Manhattan and the outer boroughs for a loop. Beyond storm surge flooding, the report addresses heat waves and heavy rains.

Recommendations, many of which are obvious, are divided into five action modes: required upgrade, new code, remove barrier, recommended and further action. For example, for commercial buildings, new code requirements would include relocating and protecting building systems; adding backup fire safety communication, preventing sewage backflow; planting wind and flood-resistant trees; preventing wind damage to existing buildings keeping gas stations open during blackouts; and ensuring toilets and sinks work without power.

For multifamily residential, new code proposals, if implemented, would require relocating and protecting building systems, among other pretty obvious measures. For homes, the report recommends launching a design competition for raised homes, capturing stormwater to prevent flooding, using cogeneration and solar power during blackouts and creating emergency plans. Not surprising. Good advice. Not really new, though.

Also, the task force would like to see further action to clarify construction requirements in flood zones. Wouldn't we all.
The ideas expressed are similar to recommendations made by others in a slew of studies that have been issued since Sandy hit on Oct. 29—in addition to the mayor's latest proposals. Makes one think there is almost nothing new under the sun. We have been flooded with proposals, ideas, recommendations. Where's the action?

One more thought: I'd like to know who is going to coordinate, compare and catalog all the recommendations made by all the stakeholders. Sounds like another report is in the wind.