Instructor: Dr. Jane Carter Ingram
Can living infrastructure provide cost-effective services to humanity that rival or exceed those provided by built/engineered infrastructure? Expenditures on infrastructure have grown dramatically in the last decade and many predict they will continue to grow, to support/stimulate economic growth in many parts of the world, such as the US, China and India, and to protect against the impacts of climate change in other parts of the world, such as Bangladesh where the World Bank estimates $5.7billion will be needed to enhance key, existent infrastructure as the climate changes. However, in times of economic austerity, cost-effective ways of securing the services provided by built infrastructure are necessary. In many case, natural infrastructure, in the form of wetlands and mangroves for reducing the impacts of storms; forests and natural systems for enhancing water quality; and greening roofs and urban spaces to reduce heating/cooling costs, can be a cost-effective way to provide the services built infrastructure is designed to provide. In addition, living infrastructure provides a range of other services that society needs such as climate regulation, food production, recreational opportunities, and pollination, therefore, reducing the costs governments and individuals need to spend on obtaining these things from elsewhere. Furthermore, built infrastructure tends to decay gradually throughout time and natural infrastructure may be more adaptable to changing conditions.
Students explore under what conditions living infrastructure is a cost-effective alternative to built infrastructure for providing coastal disaster risk reduction services and other ecosystem services that meet multiple policy objectives/human needs? Key questions will include: Who would finance the services nature provides in terms of protection from extreme events in coastal areas? Can insurance companies, governments or real estate owners be convinced that investing in living infrastructure to protect against storms or flooding is a safe, cost-effective way to reduce risks while also providing other benefits to society? What information is needed to implement a living infrastructure approach to disaster risk reduction?
Watch this capstone presentation on YouTube.