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Project summary

Investing in a sustainable infrastructure is critical to developing resilient communities that last. As identified by FEMA, this is a critical element to reducing community-level risks and impacts from disasters. Unfortunately, despite knowing this, there are still many communities that are drastically impacted by even low-level disasters. The damages can be catastrophic.

In addition to the physical damages that can occur from natural disasters, the impacts on people's finances and health can also take a toll. One simple home fire could leave an entire family displaced, which may perpetuate other challenges they may be facing. This also puts additional stressors on the social safety net and may create long-term consequences for the individual and the community.

While natural weather disturbances are impossible to prevent, the way we build and the projects in which we choose to invest will have the biggest impact on the long-term costs and sustainability of the community.


Project status

This project is still in the beginning stages of development. 

Given the high costs of infrastructure, the motive behind this research is to identify areas where communities can save and collaborate. In order to do this, areas to focus on will include:

  • Encouraging regular maintenance schedules of both private and publicly owned buildings, roads, and others to ensure that infrastructure repairs do not need to be as costly. This not only maintains the infrastructure but also frees up budgets to be spent expanding, remodeling, or paying down debts.

  • Finding future-focused and sustainable materials that are both good for business and the environment.

  • Identifying methods to reduce vehicular traffic, specifically in urban areas that may have challenges meeting the needs of infrastructure maintenance and development.

  • Developing forward-focused building codes that reduce and mitigate some of the most costly disasters, e.g., home-fire sprinkler systems and flood reduction/barriers.

  • Expanding budgets to improve quality of building and manufacture where and when able.

Expected Roadblocks

There are various challenges that are to be expected with this research, they include but are not limited to:

  • Cost for projects. Regardless of what policies say, the money has to be available to ensure that projects are built appropriately. If testing best methodology, those dollars have to be available.

  • Unwillingness to maintain the infrastructure. As it relates to buy in, people have to understand and be willing to put in the effort to maintain the infrastructure of the community. This may require shifting attitudes from individual gain/benefit towards community gain/benefit, i.e., the community as a whole cannot improve its value if all members are not willing to keep it safe and clean.

  • Skewed attitudes towards quality vs. quantity and sustainability. Due to the business climate in the U.S. where low-quality and low-cost can dominate the market, consumers may not be getting the best bang for their buck. If we continue to build cheap to save on upfront costs, the long-term may result in more costly disasters. Additionally, what is truly sustainable may be dependent on the size and location of the community, which is why it is the Blue Empress mindset that disaster cost reduction will fall on local government with supplemental aid from state/federal and private when appropriate.

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