Resiliency and sustainability are at the heart of the redevelopment of the 161-acre Suffolk Downs site. Suffolk Downs offers a unique opportunity to create a new transit-oriented mixed-use neighborhood that reconnects the area to adjoining neighborhoods, provides much-needed housing, and spurs economic development with new commercial space. It also provides the opportunity to prepare for future climate change conditions, such as sea level rise, through upfront planning by incorporating resiliency strategies and green building design techniques.
Social—One of VHB’s sustainability focus areas is Stakeholder Engagement. The team went beyond merely connecting with stakeholders on this project by creating a working group to truly leverage knowledge and experience across multiple agencies and regulatory groups. We used 2D visualizations of possible storm events to share project complexities with the working group.
Environmental—VHB completed a Resiliency and Adaptation Study to understand the impacts climate change may have on Suffolk Downs’ interconnected water system. Throughout this study—the first of its kind for a single development—we sought to discover how the built environment affects the movement of floodwaters on and off the site. By analyzing current and future climate conditions for rainfall and coastal flooding, the team evaluated whether the development would displace floodwaters, determined if the project provided a resilient design, and recommended appropriate mitigation. A sustainability focus area for VHB is Biodiversity. To provide flood plain capacity to manage flood waters the team created detention basins that function as enhanced habitat while providing additional flood protection.
Economic—This project hits two of VHB’s sustainability focus areas—Resilience and Economic Prosperity. As a result of VHB’s Resiliency and Adaptation Study, the developer, HYM Investment Group, committed $6 million in mitigation funding to improve flood resiliency at the project site and more than 1,000 surrounding properties. The redevelopment of Suffolk Downs will ultimately provide much-needed affordable housing to the communities of Boston and Revere and significant economic development throughout the lifespan of the project.