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D.C. Launches Initiative To Retrofit Buildings For Climate Threats

The Wharf from a water taxi

D.C. is looking to prepare its buildings for effects of climate change such as floods and heat waves with a major new retrofitting program. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the initiative Monday as part of Resilient D.C., a new strategy that aims to prepare the District to deal with a variety of changing forces from climate change to population growth to technological disruption. 

The climate piece of the strategy focuses on improving buildings that are at risk of damage from floods, heat waves and tropical storms. It calls for retrofitting all at-risk buildings or removing buildings from high-risk areas by 2050. D.C. is the first city to announce such a goal, Bloomberg reports

Bowser also signed a bill in January that could soon require building owners to improve their energy performance as part of her administration's effort to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions. 

The new Resilient D.C. strategy says the District will utilize regulations, incentives and other tools to help building owners adapt their properties to climate risks. It also aims to strengthen requirements for new construction projects to address heat and flood risks to the buildings.

The strategy was announced in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, an organization created by the Rockefeller Foundation that is pushing cities to adopt resiliency plans. 

With D.C. located at the intersection of two rivers, several of its fastest-growing neighborhoods are being built on the waterfront, making them more susceptible to flood risks.

The Wharf delivered a series of new buildings to the Southwest Waterfront in 2017 and its development team broke ground recently on the second phase. The Yards has brought new development to the Southeast waterfront, and Buzzard Point's development pipeline is bridging the gap between the two megaprojects.

Future development opportunities such as Poplar Point and the RFK Stadium campus are also near the Anacostia River waterfront.