Risk and Sustainability Articles

Build Green Infrastructure to Manage Flood Risk

Heavy downpours have already increased in frequency and intensity in the last 50 years, and are expected to become still more frequent and intense as global temperatures continue to rise.[1][2] Consequently, flood risk is likely to increase dramatically across the United States. The average 100-year floodplain is projected to increase 45 percent by the year 2100, while the annual damages from flooding are predicted to increase by $750 million.[3][4] Among the types of flooding that will likely become more frequent are localized floods and riverine floods. Localized flooding happens when rainfall overwhelms the capacity of urban drainage systems, while riverine flooding happens when river flows exceed the capacity of the river channel.

Risk Management and Sustainability, Together Again

The Plains Indians were experts on sustainability. They only hunted when they needed food. When they killed a buffalo, they used every part of it, wasting nothing. They made tepee coverings, bedding, clothes, moccasins, and robes from the hide. The hair was used for rope and halters, the hoofs for rattles. The horns were used to make dishes and spoons and ladles. They made glues, toys, drums, belts, shields, boats, needles, thread and more from the carcass. And they ate very, very well.

Over the years this connection between risk management and sustainability faded. Each evolved differently, risk management gaining in importance as mankind entered the industrial and technological eras. Sustainability de-emphasized as we believed in the seemingly endless bounty of nature.

Alternative Energy and Battery Backup Systems Unlock Economic Value but Increase Risks

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the installation of solar photovoltaics in the United States increased by more than 400% from 2010 to 2014 and there is every reason to think that this trend will continue.

Rooftop solar pv systems bring significant economic and green value even without the round the clock flexibility that battery backup systems provide. They are not without risk however. The obvious weather risks of wind and hail can be addresses by confirming that the pv panels and mounting systems meet all current standards and that installation is performed by a qualified, experienced professional.

Risk and Sustainability: A Perfect Pair

Each passing year, more companies are producing sustainability reports, and as of December 2013, at least 50% of companies from each major industry are publishing reports. With more reports coming out each year, there will naturally be a shift in trends. Over the past decade, there has been a shift away from a focus on environmental issues in reports to corporate governance and sustainability of the business model. The shift in reporting trends has lead to a shift in how companies are approaching sustainability; many companies are now finding was to integrate enterprise risk management (ERM) into the sustainability framework.


More articles coming soon!