Building a resilient Miami, adapted to sea level rise and better prepared for extreme storms can seem daunting.
But adapting to sea level rise now will be a heck of a lot easier than waiting. Added benefits include living in a vibrant and modern Miami and not having your city flooded as sea level rise accelerates.
Like you, we were overwhelmed with the question where to begin? So we asked experts including Professor Kenneth Broad from University of Miami, Nicole Hernandez Hammer of Florida Atlantic University’s Climate Change Initiative, Sebastian Eilert (, LEED AP),Laura Reynolds with the Everglades Coalition and Katy Sorenson who has been seeking to adapt Miami to climate change for years.
They provided many solutions, too many to list here. Below are just some of the solutions they recommended. For a more comprehensive list of over 100 solutions please visit the SE Florida Climate Compact.
1. WHERE TO BUILD THE CITY
Miami was builtswamp and Miami Beach was built on a barrier island, both are incredibly vulnerable to sea level rise. Zoning codes should be created to guide people where to build and not build according to projected sea level rise. For example development should not occur past the Urban Development Boundary into the extremely vulnerable Everglades. Instead Miami should adopt a smart growth model that includes urban infill and increasing density in the urban core.
2. BUILD SMART
Building codes, retrofitting buildings for sea level rise, should be created and enforced. These codes could be similar to the codes created after Hurricane Andrew which sought higher standards so building could be better able to withstand hurricanes. Miami has some of the world’s best architects. Let’s put them to work. Retrofitting also presents an amazing opportunity for creating a wide array of new construction and related jobs.
Coming Soon! Information on retrofitting for sea level rise.
The building sector represents over 50% of Miami’s CO2 emissions. Using cutting edge, modern building techniques that reduce energy use not only reduces CO2 but saves building owners tremendous amounts of money. Florida is the sunshine state. Installing solar on roofs will reduce energy bills and CO2 emissions as well as supply new jobs in solar, the fastest growing industry in the United States.
Coming Soon! Ways to make solar affordable and accessible in Florida.
Miami needs to create a modern public transportation system. Transportation currently contributes 40% of the CO2 Miami emits. Creating a modern public transit network will not only connect various parts of the city allowing people greater and faster access to schools, jobs, stores, entertainment and more, but it will clean Miami’s air. Who doesn’t love moving fast and breathing clean air?
5. DRINKING WATER
Less than 2 feet of sea level rise could threaten Miami’s drinking water. This is because all of Miami’s drinking water lies right beneath the city in the Biscayne Aquifer vulnerable to salt water intrusion. Over one-third of Floridians – nearly 7 million people – get their daily water supply from the Biscayne Aquifer.
Anyone who has accidentally swallowed salt water knows humans can’t drink salt water. What to do? The beautiful thing is that the Everglades naturally restore fresh water to the Biscayne Aquifer and help keep salt water at bay. Although there are a lot of ideas being considered to solve the greater problem of salt water seeping into the aquifer, right now ensuring the Everglades are healthy and conserving the precious water we use are our best hopes.
To learn more about ways you can help protect the Everglades, contact Celeste at Tropical Audobun Society (Everglades Coalition member).
6. CITY INFRASTRUCTURE
Miami’s Infrastructure needs some serious repair and replacement. This includes water and sewer infrastructure that needs to be upgraded and in some instances moved altogether to adjust to sea level rise. This might not sound sexy or exciting but having poop flood everywhere is not either.
To learn more about this solution visit the Biscayne Bay Keeper
7. MODERN WALKABLE & LIVEABLE CITY
Miami tops the list for pedestrian and bike fatalities in the nation. Part of building a resilient city means that transportation choices, especially those that reduce our CO2 footprint, are readily accessible to all. By focusing our planning efforts on streets that make walking and biking easier and safer for all ages, which in turn fosters a greater connectivity between neighborhoods, we strengthen the very fabric of our community.
Miami has already adopted a Complete Streets Resolution that just needs to be implemented.
Miami Dade Parks Department also has an Open Space Master Plan that aims to greatly enhance our access to green spaces throughout the county.
8. PROTECTING WHAT PROTECTS US
Healthy dunes and coral reefs help reduce the impact from extreme storm surges. Restoring them and keeping them healthy and robust protects Miami.
9. SPREAD THE WORD
Get the facts. Attend a CLEO training on climate change and learn what is causing Miami to be vulnerable to extreme storms and accelerated sea level rise as well as the solutions.
Miami Dade County has joined 3 other counties in South Florida to create guidelines for how to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Tell your local leaders you want them to actually adopt these guidelines and translate them into real action.
11. BUILD COMMUNITY
Let’s remember why people created cities in the first place. Wecame together to create community. A resilient Miami will ultimately be one where a network of people, a community, comes together to prepare for the next extreme Hurricane and adapts to the inevitable rising of the seas. With climate change fueling more extreme storms and Miami geographically located in a hurricane landfall zone, a storm is destined to hit. The sea has also already risen 12 inches and will most likely rise another 4-6 feet by the end of this century. Our community needs to come together to respond and adapt. Miami is made up of many people who already know how to bounce back from adversity, devise creative solutions to life’s challenges and more.
Community members are coming together to build a resilient Miami. Connect with us to learn more about upcoming educational events, field trips to visit solutions in action and more.