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Even before failed back-up generators forced the evacuation of hospitals in New York in recent days, some local hospitals have been working on fail-safe ways to ensure that the lights stay on during severe storms.
The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, opening in 2013, positioned its ground floor and all openings into the garage below, 2½ feet above the current 500-year flood plain elevation to safeguard against sea level rise. They have put key electrical equipment on the rooftop penthouse and even installed operable windows in all patient rooms for ventilation in case they lose power. Massachusetts General Hospital, meanwhile, has moved emergency generators and equipment to high ground and has planned to do so for other campus buildings.
Boston has launched a “Green Ribbon” commission, including business and civic leaders, to fight climate change not just by reducing emissions, but by adapting to it by constructing buildings differently. The city already requires departments to take climate change into account in planning decisions. State officials are also requiring developers building in areas prone to coastal flooding to erect the lowest floor at least 2 feet above where water levels now rise during severe storms.
With waterfront development on the rise in the Seaport District, East Boston, and Charlestown, “we have the luxury and the opportunity of having a tremendous amount of waterfront real estate available for development, and we need to make sure this is done in a way that anticipates being prepared for and resilient for storms we expect to see,’’ said Brian Swett, chief of environment and energy for the city of Boston.