Climate Resilient Design Standards & Guidelines

As part of a construction and engineering contract for the City of Boston, Weston & Sampson assisted the Boston Public Works Department (BPWD) in their efforts to establish climate-resilient design standards guidelines for managing segmental adaptation projects to achieve approximately four feet of flood protection by 2070, with the option to add an additional two feet in the future. Project goals included:

  • Establish resilience design guidelines for discrete priority projects and for segmental adaptation projects to achieve flood protection by 2070, with the option to add an additional 2 ft. of protection in the future.
  • Translate the Climate Ready Boston concepts into feasible engineering and operational solutions that focus on protecting public right-of-way from flooding due to tidal and storm surge events.
  • Provide a menu of sample flood protection options with engineering design considerations, preliminary cost estimates, as well as operations and maintenance guidance.

Together with the BPWD, Boston Environment Department, and Boston Planning & Development Agency, our team developed sample specifications, drawings, design, operations, maintenance, and cost considerations for four barrier options: harborwalk barriers, raised roadway barriers, deployable flood barriers, and vegetated berms.

Our design considerations include adjacent development, accessibility, structural, geotechnical, transportation, utilities, stormwater, groundwater, vegetation, site boundary constraints, off-site impacts, and incremental adaptation. Weston & Sampson’s multi-disciplinary team of resiliency/structural/transportation/utilities engineers, architects/landscape architects, and environmental/permitting professionals provided a process to design effective flood protection that embrace flexibility, incremental adaptation, redundancies, and stormwater management.

The guidelines, which have been adopted by the City of Boston Public Improvement Commission (PIC) in its Policy for Climate Resilience, are organized to intuitively lead users through the process of advancing a conceptual flood barrier for projected climate conditions by evaluating applicable design considerations, operation and maintenance procedures, and related costs. Engineers and design professional should use these considerations to augment the existing standard of care provided for projects, understand technical challenges associated with barriers, and identify opportunities to create value wherever feasible.


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