/ Americas

Strengthening Urban Resilience 

The Urban Land Institute’s Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance leveraged the expertise of ULI members to inform research outlining fundamental principles for building resilient cities and regions that successfully anticipate, respond to, and recover from extreme weather events and as well as long-term environmental stresses. 

Ten Principles for Building Resilience , produced by the center’s Urban Resilience program, proposes guidelines for city and regional leaders as well as real estate and land use professionals to design, plan, and build communities and infrastructure in ways that address vulnerabilities related to climate change and other threats to prosperity and well-being.

The report makes the case through examples and insights drawn from members’ work with local decision-makers and community leaders on building resilience in disparate locations across the United States. ULI’s Advisory Services program has convened expert panels to advance resilience strategies in Seattle; Norfolk, Virginia; the New York City metropolitan region; Portland, Maine; and Miami–Dade County, Florida, among other areas, to assist with short- and long-range strategies to develop resilience. Insights from these panels as well as a follow-up workshop chaired by former ULI Global Chairman and ULI Governing Trustee Marilyn Jordan Taylor were distilled into the following principles: 

– Understand vulnerabilities
– Strengthen job and housing opportunities
– Promote equity
– Leverage community assets
– Redefine how and where to build
– Build the business case
– Accurately price the cost of inaction
– Design with natural systems
– Maximize co-benefits, and
– Harness innovation and technology.

ULI has advised community leaders on building resilience in cities across the United States, including Norfolk, Virginia (above).

A key theme discussed in the report is the critical role of the private real estate sector in transforming the market and leveraging investments in resilient design, buildings, and infrastructure. “The concept of the business case—the proof of return on the individual and collective investment—is a powerful tool to guide decision-making and assemble the resources to rebuild homes, businesses, and infrastructures of water, transport, and communications upon which the well-being of communities relies,” said Taylor, who is a professor of architecture and urban design at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ten Principles of Building Resilience received funding support from the Kresge Foundation and the New York Community Trust. In addition to the Urban Resilience program, the Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance includes the Building Healthy Places InitiativeGreenprint Center for Building Performance, and Tenant Energy Optimization Program.   

Give to the Annual Fund to support ULI’s research on sustainable development and other issues.   

Find Ten Principles of Building Resilience and other ULI research in Knowledge Finder. 

Find sustainability experts in the Member Directory.

  • “Real estate, land use, design, and planning leaders have an important contributing role to play in reducing cities’ vulnerabilities by building and building back responsibly.”

    – Former ULI Global Chairman and ULI Governing Trustee Marilyn Jordan Taylor

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