A few weeks ago, our team attended the conference “Designing a Carbon Neutral New York” co-hosted by the New York Chapters of AIA, APA, and ASLA. Presenters spoke on the history of carbon emission reduction methods in NYC, on current methods and research, and on forthcoming policy initiatives designed to lower emissions across various sectors.

The presentations focused predominantly on issues related to large commercial real estate development and residential retrofitting. After an engaging conference, we were moved to continue the conversation, adding research and findings that we’ve collected over the years on sustainability and resiliency for small businesses and commercial districts.

Small businesses make up 99.8% of all New York businesses. These 2 million small businesses employ more than 4 million people–or 50.2% of New York employees.

For New York (and throughout the U.S. where an average of 47.5% of workers are employed by small businesses), environmental resiliency for small businesses means greater environmental and economic resiliency for all. If a storm, fire, or other disaster shuts down a commercial district, there are few, if any options to reroute services (a luxury of large businesses). When small businesses are closed by unexpected disasters (or in the future, by rising sea levels, changing temperatures, and strengthening storms), not only does the community lose the services provided by those businesses, but employees will be (temporarily or permanently) out of work, losing valuable income needed during the post-recovery period. Improving the resiliency of small businesses greatly increases the chances that necessary products and services remain available immediately after a disaster, that local workers retain their jobs, and that earnings continue to flow through the community during the recovery period.

Over the next month, our team will walk through mitigation and preparedness strategies that commercial districts and small businesses can take on to manage environmental emergencies. We will cover everything from sustainability and resiliency assessments for small businesses, storm water management practices on commercial corridors, urban heat island mitigation efforts, micro grids, and resiliency financing for small businesses and BIDs.

Stay tuned!