A City College of New York architecture professor says that viewing infrastructure as highly connected systems that work better together produces projects that are more cost effective, less environmentally damaging, and more resilient. To successfully revamp aging city and state assets:

  • Systems should be multipurpose, interconnected, and synergistic.
  • Infrastructure should contribute few or no carbon emissions.
  • Infrastructure should work with natural processes.
  • Infrastructure should improve social contexts and serve local constituencies.
  • Infrastructure should adapt to predicted changes resulting from an increasingly unstable global climate.

In Next Generation Infrastructure: Principles for Post-Industrial Public Works, Hillary Brown says adopting these principles will yield multipurpose, low-carbon, resilient infrastructure that meshes well with natural and social systems. She presents little-known examples from around the world of projects that do more with less and are designed for longevity in the face of climate change.

The book’s last chapter addresses on how to fund “future-proof” infrastructure: enabling state and local initiatives.

“In lieu of one single ‘silver-bullet’ financing mechanism, excellent models have paved the way financing public works at the state and local level,” she says. These include the West Coast Infrastructure Exchange, California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (the I-Bank) and its Infrastructure State Revolving Fund, the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, and Connecticut’s “green bank.”