In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, the RE.invest Initiative today announced it has selected eight partner cities across the country to help develop resilient urban stormwater infrastructure systems. The two-year initiative, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, will help cities rethink the way they design, plan, implement and finance urban infrastructure. By helping cities use public resources more efficiently and attract new sources of private investment, RE.invest will reduce the burden placed on city personnel and public budgets.
The RE.invest Initiative announced that the partner cities are: San Francisco, CA; Miami Beach, FL; New Orleans, LA; Hoboken, NJ; Honolulu, HI; El Paso, TX; Milwaukee, WI; and Norfolk, VA.
"Hurricane Sandy was a tragic reminder of how vulnerable our city infrastructure systems can be. That is why it is critical that cities have the tools and strategies not just to respond to disaster but to plan for whatever contingency," said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. "The Rockefeller Foundation has been committed to building the resilience of cities for the last few years, including our recent announcement of the 100 resilient cities centennial challenge. We are proud to continue that work by supporting RE.invest to help eight cities take the next step toward implementing improved stormwater infrastructure systems, but more importantly to help the cities take the next step in building a more resilient future."
"Hurricane Sandy was a wake-up call that cities across the U.S. need to protect their communities from the devastating impacts of future storms. Recent reports indicate 11 billion gallons of untreated waste water was released due to surges during just that storm," said Shalini Vajjhala of c.dots development, the lead on the RE.invest Initiative. "Our goal is to prevent the kind of destruction that is caused by these terrible storms, which are increasing in intensity. Together with our corporate partners, we are going to help cities mobilize significant investments to reduce costs for these important projects. We also want to connect cities with project developers and potential investors as they undertake critical infrastructure investments."
Participating cities will receive technical assistance from engineering, law and finance experts at Bechtel, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and Wall Street Without Walls. These firms will play a collaborative role with the cities by providing expertise and technical support. One of the primary goals of RE.invest is to shape a new model for collaboration between private investors, private sector and municipalities that can support learning, flexibility and continuous improvement in infrastructure delivery.
Sustainable stormwater infrastructure systems are networks made up of many component parts, such as green rooftops, trees, wetlands and repaved roads that feature more permeable surfaces that result in less runoff. Partners will identify news ways to bundle revenue streams so cities can effectively work with private investors and the private sector to make smart improvements to their local infrastructure. For example, perhaps a broadband company is looking to install underground lines which will require construction and the roads will need to be repaved. RE.invest will help cities and private sector partners connect the dots to see if power lines could be buried when the road is opened up and make sure the road is repaved with more absorbent asphalt to reduce water runoff during future storms.
"Smart planning, innovation and an integrated approach are key to developing the sustainable infrastructure necessary to enhance the social and economic fabric of America's great cities," said Walker Kimball, Managing Director, Infrastructure, Bechtel. "We are looking forward to using our technical know-how, our history of applying creative thinking to infrastructure planning, and our ability to help make projects become a reality. We are delighted to be part of this initiative that will identify innovative solutions and more efficient delivery options for the challenges of tomorrow."
"The rehabilitation and upkeep of our nation's urban storm and waste water systems is of great importance, and we are thrilled to be part of the RE.invest Initiative to help these cities attract this much-needed investment," said Susan Lent, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, which is providing legal counsel to the RE.invest Initiative. "Successful public-private partnerships demand knowledge of the political landscape, an awareness of regulatory requirements, public sector support and an ability to identify revenue streams and innovative approaches to project delivery. We are excited to be able to bring our experience to the table on this crucial project."
"The RE.invest initiative is a smart approach for cities looking to improve vital infrastructure in a way that attracts new sources of private investment. We are excited to support the effort by providing the type of credible financial experts who will think creatively about ways to invest in the resilience of our communities," said John Nelson, Managing Partner of Wall Street Without Walls, which is providing financial counsel to the RE.invest Initiative. "Hopefully the partner cities involved in the RE.invest initiative will be so successful, cities across America will follow their example and decide to invest in a more sustainable future."