Federal Reserve Bank Climate Risk Review

Client: Federal Reserve Bank

The Challenge

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is a large complex situated along the Fort Point Channel across the street from South Station. It's 33-story office tower is a familiar landmark in downtown Boston. Recent storm events here and in New York City have raised questions about the Bank's susceptibility to flooding from Boston Harbor during major storm events.

Chester Engineers was tapped to conduct a Climate Risk Review to identify potential vulnerabilities for the Bank with regard to sea level rise and storm surge.

The Interdisciplinary Approach

After an initial meeting with Bank officials, our interdisciplinary team of engineers and planners carefully reviewed plans and drawings of the site as well as researched the municipal infrastructure that supports the Bank's operations and that of their tenants. Our group also reviewed the latest reports about sea level rise in general and specifically here in New England and Boston Harbor. Based on a series of assumptions about storm surge levels at 2050 and 2100, we then analyzed the site and identified potential points of onsite flooding and water infiltration. From this site analysis, a plan of related measures was developed to reduce the Bank's vulnerability and improve its resiliency during major storm events. The plan included a schedule of site and perimeter upgrades as well as the movement of major mechanical systems that support the complex. Preliminary cost estimates were provided as well.

Perhaps most importantly, the study identified gaps in data that could pose problems, including subsurface conditions, and made the case for utilizing harbor-wide risk-based models and statistical analysis that are needed to make truly substantiated decisions. The study thus served as a framework for future deeper exploration, which will allow the Bank's management team to understand both the nature of the risks, and their potential mitigation measures.

The Sustainable Result

The final report is a preliminary plan that will not only position the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to adopt a vibrant business model able to withstand risks from climate change, but also to be well poised to continue uninterrupted operations for a century and beyond through the formulation of a strategy for integrated disaster resilience.

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Project Highlights:
  • Provided campus-scale, risk-based facility and infrastructure planning, and design to increase disaster resiliency through cost- effective property improvements and new operational practices.
Services Provided:
  • Gather and review site and utility infrastructure data.
  • Conduct preliminary site and facility assessments then identify specific vulnerabilities.
  • Prepare a list with estimated costs of Climate Risk Reduction Measures that apply to existing infrastructure and future design.