12/17/2013 11:22 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2014

Rebuilding Breezy Point After Sandy


It's been more than a year since Superstorm Sandy rocked our shores and devastated communities across the Eastern Seaboard. Though Manhattan was quick to recover and get back to business as usual, the same cannot be said for many of our coastal communities, including the small seaside region of Breezy Point, New York. Empty plots of sand and boarded-up houses are a daily reminder of what once stood in Breezy.

Fortunately, Breezy Point is a strong community of long-time residents determined to recover from the setback of a lifetime. Despite limited resources and delayed government assistance, some homeowners have already begun to rebuild, hoping to create a stronger and more resilient community than the Breezy they knew before.

As anyone who has ever been involved in building or renovating a home will tell you, it is a long, trying and expensive process. From the initial design phase to laying the foundation, building the shell, and installing the electrical and HVAC systems, there are thousands of decisions to make along the way. Even with the best design and construction team and adequate resources, this can be a daunting process from the get-go.

Urban Green Council's Emerging Professionals recognized this issue as an opportunity to harness the talent and creativity of design students and young professionals across the country to provide an exemplary model for resilient homes. The 3rd Annual Emerging Professionals Design Competition, R3build, focuses on four key components of building in coastal communities: resiliency, energy, the environment, and the economy (R3).

The competition tasks students and young professionals with designing a single-family home to withstand extreme weather events for areas most susceptible to increased storm intensity, frequency, and sea level rise. Teams are encouraged to consider the applicability of their design to modular, off-site construction in order to expedite the rebuilding process following natural disasters. Though the Emerging Professionals will not be involved directly in the construction, the winning design will be submitted to the Breezy Point Green Committee to help a family rebuild. This will save considerable time and funds, providing the family selected with the tools to rebuild a resilient home.

There is no doubt that most coastal communities will rebuild, the question is how to do so responsibly. Rebuilding a stronger, more resilient community starts with the home; a comfortable, safe, and reliable structure that can withstand the wrath of severe weather. This is where the roots of the community are established, and this is where the rebuilding of Breezy Point begins.

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