The Center for Resilient Design at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), part of the university's College of Architecture and Design (CoAD), has received a two-year grant from the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium to develop ways to protect ecosystems and their surrounding communities from flood waters. The grant project will focus on Greenwich Township in Cumberland County's Delaware Bayshore area, where dikes built in the 1600s and already breached suffered significant damage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy nearly four years ago. Also greatly affected was the ecosystem just behind the dikes, which plays a vital role in both the local environment and economy.
For the initiative, titled "At Risk: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and Resilient Communities & Economies in an Era of Climate Change: A Balanced Approach to Protecting People, Property and Nature in Historic Greenwich Township, NJ," NJIT researchers will collaborate with Rutgers and Montclair State Universities to advance coastal resiliency planning while balancing human and ecosystem needs. Their study involves determining the likelihood and magnitude of environmental effects based on natural-resource vulnerabilities, identifying a range of protective flood-mitigation alternatives, and engaging Greenwich Township stakeholders to disseminate scientific information so the community can make the best decisions about its resilient and sustainable future. The project's goals for Greenwich Township include restoring and enhancing the natural environment with a focus on tidal wetlands, and protecting upland habitats, farmland and historic structures and sites.
"Primarily, this project serves to research and analyze potential solutions to Greenwich Township's efforts toward resilience," said Colette Santasieri, Ph.D., director of Policy and Planning Innovation for Civil Infrastructure and Environment at NJIT, who is spearheading the project. "But it also will prove critical to the ecosystem health and economies of all coastal communities in New Jersey, especially with regard to the farming, fishing and recreation industries."
Toward this end, researchers will transform the results of their case study into a process-solution model and online education program for use by other coastal communities threatened by rising waters from storms. Deane Evans, executive director of NJIT's Center for Building Knowledge, also part of CoAD, will lead this effort.
"Our intent is to develop approaches that have the power to protect people, property and natural resources, strengthen the economy, and enhance the quality of life in coastal communities throughout the state," Dr. Santasieri added.
About NJIT and the Center for Resilient Design
One of the nation's leading public technological universities, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is a top-tier research university that prepares students to become leaders in the technology-dependent economy of the 21st century. NJIT's multidisciplinary curriculum and computing-intensive approach to education provide technological proficiency, business acumen and leadership skills. With an enrollment of 11,300 graduate and undergraduate students, NJIT offers small-campus intimacy with the resources of a major public research university. NJIT is a global leader in such fields as solar research, nanotechnology, resilient design, tissue engineering, and cybersecurity, in addition to others. NJIT ranks 5th among U.S. polytechnic universities in research expenditures, topping $110 million, and is among the top 1 percent of public colleges and universities in return on educational investment, according to PayScale.com. NJIT has a $1.74 billion annual economic impact on the state of New Jersey.
The Center for Resilient Design assists communities in post-hurricane recovery efforts. Through applied research, field testing and community outreach, the center provides residents, business owners, design professionals and government officials with actionable expertise and ready-to-build designs for disaster recovery in areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Visit centers.njit.edu/cfrd/ for more information.
About the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium
The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium is an affiliation of colleges, universities and other groups dedicated to advancing knowledge and stewardship of New Jersey's marine and coastal environment, and meets its mission through innovative research, education and extension programs. For more information, visit njseagrant.org.