Track Three: Design Application and Policy Framework


Principle Investigators: Traci Birch, Jeff Carney, Melissa Daigle, Niki Pace

This element of the project focuses on engaging design professionals, policy makers, and community members to apply future projections of ecological conditions and community well-being priorities at the design project level; and engaging communities in Community Resilience Index exercises to identify climate change impacts and opportunities for increasing adaptive capacity. 

The project teams will create a strong and ongoing relationship with local chapters of three national professional design and planning organizations: American Institute of Architects (AIA), American Planning Association (APA), and American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). This portion of the overall program will bring projects to the table where designers and researchers can collaboratively implement research findings to support/test design and community-led adaptation efforts.  The local chapters of AIA, APA, ASLA will be integral to bringing community leaders, staff, and elected officials to the table.

The design practice partnership will result in:

Community Resilience Indexing: Early in the process, the team - led by community resilience specialists at the Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) (Daigle, Pace) and designers/planners with the LSU Coastal Sustainability Studio (Carney, Birch, Allen) - will identify information and capacity gaps affecting community adaptive capacity.  In particular, the team will build upon the successes of the Community Resilience Index (CRI) developed by Gulf of Mexico Alliance, to work with case study communities to collect data, best practices, and goals of decision makers that both enable and inhibit effective adaptation. The tool will be modified to infuse community well-being elements into the discussion. Prior use of the CRI, within twelve Louisiana communities, has shown the tool is extremely beneficial.

Design Assistance: A series of project specific working groups will be organized to engage the university-based researchers with professional counterparts to apply findings directly to projects. This forum, based on the Louisiana Community Resilience Institute (LCRI) model, will engage researchers and professionals in the development of specific community designs, landscapes.  The process will build prototypes at multiple points in the process with the intention of “learning through doing” and provide feedback back to the researchers. Design assistance will be sought by project champions (developer, community member, client, or designer). Final selection will be made by a committee of professional organizations, local and state agencies, and research faculty.

Best Practices: Project efforts will be integrated into a best practices for adaptive design document and together with accompanying website will showcase case studies developed through the program. Project and policy development will be highlighted at the regional, neighborhood, block and site scale. The team will also explore the use of third party standards for resilient private development as marketing incentives for developers and architects. These certifications/designations, for example “resilient neighborhoods”, will be based on improved flood hazard modeling from this effort, as well as other available modeling datasets. These designations provide developers a marketing tool to offset any increased development costs.

Legal and Policy Research (Daigle, Pace, Wilkins): Throughout the course of the project, changes to the National Flood Program, including its reauthorization in 2017 and a new Community Rating System Manual to be released in early 2017, will be researched and evaluated for project impacts. In addition, in-depth legal research and outreach will be conducted on potential local government liability for development decisions in light of better hydrologic modeling information, including policy options for translating the results of the mapping into new policies, while taking into consideration potential takings claims. Though local governments have broad legal authority to implement land use decisions based on public health and welfare, the ability of local governments to regulate based on future conditions is less clear.

Research into applicable law and policy aspects of regulating for future conditions will be conducted and outreach materials on this issue will be created for the communities. There is evidence that mental health recovery from flood events is closely linked to the need to relocate (negatively) and that adaptation to limit future flooding increases mental health, therefore preventative regulations that are properly communicated to the community members should have a positive impact on mental health in both the short and the long–term (Lamond, J, Rotimi, J., & Proverbs, D., 2015).

This legal framework and approach will result in:

  1. White paper or law journal article
  2. Publications, such as short factsheets or FAQs on research topics, targeted to different sectors of the project, including elected officials, architects, floodplain managers, homeowners
  3. Presentations and workshops for project target audience
  4. Focus group/ambassador/citizen expert programs to accomplish ripple effect learning and awareness impacts

Design Visioning: Following interviews, design assistance, and best practices, the professional design organizations will organize and host annual public workshops that will culminate in a “vision” document for the Baton Rouge region that will present research in a broader context of coastal/inland communities thus reaching a broad national audience. This final phase will highlight the research benefits of an improved understanding of the hydrology and terrain of the region, specific benefits to community well-being of resilient community design, and a wealth of implementation strategies, legal/policy frameworks, and design best practices for achieving successful implementation.