Building a resilient Miami, adapted to sea level rise and better prepared for extreme storms can seem daunting.

Like you, we were overwhelmed with the question where to begin? So we asked experts including Professor Kenneth Broad from University of Miami, Nicole Hernandez Hammer of Florida Atlantic University’s Climate Change Initiative, Sebastian Eilert (, LEED AP),Laura Reynolds with the Everglades Coalition and Katy Sorenson who has been seeking to adapt Miami to climate change for years.

They provided many solutions, too many to list here. Below are just some of the solutions they recommended. For a more comprehensive list of over 100 solutions please visit the SE Florida Climate Compact.


Miami was builtswamp and Miami Beach was built on a barrier island, both are incredibly vulnerable to sea level rise. Zoning codes should be created to guide people where to build and not build according to projected sea level rise. For example development should not occur past the Urban Development Boundary into the extremely vulnerable Everglades. Instead Miami should adopt a smart growth model that includes urban infill and increasing density in the urban core.


Building codes, retrofitting buildings for sea level rise, should be created and enforced.  These codes could be similar to the codes created after Hurricane Andrew which sought higher standards so building could be better able to withstand hurricanes.  Miami has some of the world's best architects.  Let's put them to work.  Retrofitting also presents an amazing opportunity for creating a wide array of new construction and related jobs.

Coming Soon! Information on retrofitting for sea level rise.


The building sector represents over 50% of Miami’s CO2 emissions. Using cutting edge, modern building techniques that reduce energy use not only reduces CO2 but saves building owners tremendous amounts of money. Florida is the sunshine state. Installing solar on roofs will reduce energy bills and CO2 emissions as well as supply new jobs in solar, the fastest growing industry in the United States.

Coming Soon! Ways to make solar affordable and accessible in Florida.


Miami needs to create a modern public transportation system. Transportation currently contributes 40% of the CO2 Miami emits. Creating a modern public transit network will not only connect various parts of the city allowing people greater and faster access to schools, jobs, stores, entertainment and more, but it will clean Miami’s air. Who doesn’t love moving fast and breathing clean air?

To learn more about the movement for more public transit, contact Marta at Miami’s Urban Impact Lab and Emerge Miami.


Less than 2 feet of sea level rise could threaten Miami’s drinking water. This is because all of Miami’s drinking water lies right beneath the city in the Biscayne Aquifer vulnerable to salt water intrusion. Over one-third of Floridians - nearly 7 million people - get their daily water supply from the Biscayne Aquifer.

Anyone who has accidentally swallowed salt water knows humans can’t drink salt water. What to do? The beautiful thing is that the Everglades naturally restore fresh water to the Biscayne Aquifer and help keep salt water at bay. Although there are a lot of ideas being considered to solve the greater problem of salt water seeping into the aquifer, right now ensuring the Everglades are healthy and conserving the precious water we use are our best hopes.

To learn more about ways you can help protect the Everglades, contact Celeste at Tropical Audobun Society (Everglades Coalition member).



Miami’s Infrastructure needs some serious repair and replacement. This includes water and sewer infrastructure that needs to be upgraded and in some instances moved altogether to adjust to sea level rise. This might not sound sexy or exciting but having poop flood everywhere is not either.

To learn more about this solution visit the Biscayne Bay Keeper


Miami tops the list for pedestrian and bike fatalities in the nation. Part of building a resilient city means that transportation choices, especially those that reduce our CO2 footprint, are readily accessible to all. By focusing our planning efforts on streets that make walking and biking easier and safer for all ages, which in turn fosters a greater connectivity between neighborhoods, we strengthen the very fabric of our community.

Miami has already adopted a Complete Streets Resolution that just needs to be implemented.

Miami Dade Parks Department also has an Open Space Master Plan that aims to greatly enhance our access to green spaces throughout the county.


Healthy dunes and coral reefs help reduce the impact from extreme storm surges. Restoring them and keeping them healthy and robust protects Miami.

To learn more about how to restore our Dunes contact your local Surfider. To learn more about how to restore our coral reefs contact your local Oceana chapter.


Get the facts. Attend a CLEO training on climate change and learn what is causing Miami to be vulnerable to extreme storms and accelerated sea level rise as well as the solutions.


Miami Dade County has joined 3 other counties in South Florida to create guidelines for how to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Tell your local leaders you want them to actually adopt these guidelines and translate them into real action.


Let’s remember why people created cities in the first place. Wecame together to create community. A resilient Miami will ultimately be one where a network of people, a community, comes together to prepare for the next extreme Hurricane and adapts to the inevitable rising of the seas. With climate change fueling more extreme storms and Miami geographically located in a hurricane landfall zone, a storm is destined to hit. The sea has also already risen 12 inches and will most likely rise another 4-6 feet by the end of this century. Our community needs to come together to respond and adapt. Miami is made up of many people who already know how to bounce back from adversity, devise creative solutions to life’s challenges and more.

Community members are coming together to build a resilient Miami. Connect with us to learn more about upcoming educational events, field trips to visit solutions in action and more.



In early May, the Resilient Miami teamed up with Code for Miami folks for the eMerge America hackathon weekend (our very first hackathon).   We had one objective:  develop a concept for an evacuation/emergency preparedness app.Knowing that in climate-vulnerable cities such as Miami, preparedness often means evacuating -- we focused our very limited time on creating something that would help with an evacuation scenario.  The amazing folks from Code for Miami, Ernie Hsiung and Rebekah Monson, really helped us create an initial concept for a mobile app that would provide information on evacuation routes, bus stops, open shelters and news updates.

The concept app also featured a localized chat room so people could assist others in their vicinity.  The chat space is divided into NEED and OFFER so if, for example, a neighbor needed a ride out they could post and find someone close by that could offer a seat in their automobile.  We hope to add additional functionalities such as social media integration (especially for the chat piece), car sharing, more robust transit information and CERT team leader identification within neighborhoods.  Future versions will also include other aspects for comprehensive emergency preparedness and response.

We've present the app to both Miami Dade County Emergency Management and the Miami Beach Emergency Operations Center and they are very interested in what this can do -- both for emergency preparedness and for community building.

We would still love any assistance building out the app so feel free to join us (even if you're not a developer/coder) at Code for Miami (they meet every Monday, 7pm, LAB Miami).


Resilient Miami partnered with CLEO Institute and Los Allies Unidos of Public Allies Miami (Catalyst Miami) on June 10th  for a roundtable discussion on climate change and how it will affect the residents of Little Havana. Attendees heard from Caroline Lewis, founder & director of The CLEO Institute, and Marta Viciedo, co-founder of Urban Impact Lab and project leader of Resilient Miami.  We discussed the basics behind the climate change issues our local and global communities are facing and the essential role we can all play in building resilience within our communities.

We'll be hosting additional events and taking more action in the Little Havana area in July.  Stay tuned!



::  Below is a repost from Leonard Berry, Ph.D., Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies  ::

Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies has been working on sea level rise and other climate change issues since 2006. Many of you have attended our workshops and summits. This work has been a collaborative effort, partnering with other Universities, local, state, national and international agencies, and private industry.  The focus of the work has been not only to examine the changing built and natural environment of South Florida, but also to facilitate the creation and dissemination of trusted science to those who will be shaping Florida's future.

In April of 2012, I testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on the impacts of sea level rise on domestic energy and water infrastructure. As a result, our Center has become a consistent source of reliable sea level rise resources for local decision-makers and media around the globe.

Last week, the Senate Climate Action Task Force “pulled an all-nighter” to discuss climate change. The session culminated with Florida Senator Bill Nelson discussing the current state of sea level rise in Florida and mentioning the sea level rise work being done by Florida Atlantic University. Over the last year, Senator Nelson’s staff has met with FAU to learn more about this critical issue.

Earth Week is Climate Week!

As we collectively work together on sea level rise issues, we are encouraged by these upcoming events as well as President Obama’s commitment to prioritizing climate change solutions.

We thank you for your hard work and support.

Leonard Berry, Ph.D., Director ::  Florida Center for Environmental Studies ::  Co-Director FAU Climate Change Initiative

Florida Atlantic University  ::  5353 Parkside Dr., SR 249  ::  Jupiter FL 33458  ::  Office  561 799 8554


NOAA's National Hurricane Center has posted the dates for the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season:  June 1st through November 30th. According Global Weather Oscillations, Inc., the 2014 season will have 17 named storms, 8 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.  Read details of their 2014 report here.

As hurricane season nears, Resilient Miami is commencing its work with local communities to help build Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs).  The teams will be created at the neighborhood level, with special attention given to building a network of locally trained community members that are prepared to respond to emergencies as they arise.

CERTs are far more than emergency response-trained neighbors, they are the foundation for a connected, informed community built on the vision of resilience and preparedness.  One of the most important things to remember is that in the case of a severe event, such as a hurricane, you are basically on your own for at least 48 hours before emergency crews are assembled and can arrive with assistance and supplies.  A community's preparedness for those 48 hours (or possibly more) can mean the difference between life and death.

Resilient Miami is starting with two communities, Little Havana and Miami Beach, in creating CERT trainings and neighborhood groups.  Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a CERT member for your community or for more information.


Through the HighWaterLine | Miami project and in Resilient Miami's nascent stages, we've encountered many ideas of what the word 'resilient' implies.   A few of our favorites:

Prepared  |  Connected  |  Sustainable  |  Adaptable  |  Informed  |  Innovative  |  Dynamic   |  Responsive  |  Engaged  |  Forward-thinking

This is by no means a comprehensive list nor does it provide a complete definition for resilience,  but each one of these words captures part of the essence of what it means to be building a Resilient Miami.

Locally, many groups are taking steps towards building elements that positively impact resilience.  Several of these individuals and organizations are better connected to each other as a result of the the HighWaterLine | Miami project.  Yet, much more lies ahead from all levels of our community.

Where Does Miami's Leadership Stand?

Just recently, on Feb 4th - 6th, mayors joined together in Johannesburg, South Africa for the fifth biennial C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group Mayors Summit.  The theme for this year's summit was:


“Towards resilient and liveable Megacities– demonstrating action, impact and opportunity”

Current and previous mayors and other other representatives from numerous global cities had the chance to present and participate in this event.  Miami was largely absent.  It is not clear at this time whether anyone from Miami was even present, but as one of the nation's fastest growing cities and more critically, the country's most climate-vulnerable city it is remarkable that we, as a global city, didn't have more of a presence.  Clearly, there is a need to elevate the conversation and impress upon our local leaders the need to take bold steps towards

Resilient Miami :: A Starting Point

For Resilient Miami there's lots of work ahead.  As a starting point, Resilient Miami is taking on two issues:  emergency response and solar power.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.24.30 PM
Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 6.24.30 PM

With emergency response, we are seeking to lay the foundation for a much more prepared, informed and responsive community.  Starting with the area of Little Havana in the City of Miami, Resilient Miami is building a broad coalition of community members that will benefit from professionally provided emergency response training in an effort to create CERTs or Community Emergency Response Teams.  Creating neighborhood CERT networks throughout our communities is not only about emergency response as it is also a powerful tool for building community networks and connections.

According to Miami-Dade's CERT-brochure communities affected by disasters will be largely on their own for the first 24-72 hours as emergency personnel and materials are organized and deployed.  A community's emergency response preparation is immensely important during the first hours after a disaster strikes -- for many, it could literally mean the difference between life and death.

As Resilient Miami moves forward with the community building and information gathering stages of the CERT creation, we will need broad support.  If you are interested in learning more or participating, please contact us.


On the solar front, Resilient Miami is working on increasing our collective knowledge regarding solar power in South Florida.  Despite Miami's high solar potential, the area is incomprehensibly low in terms of solar energy output.  While general thoughts and theories abound as to why solar energy is not easily attainable for the Miami area, Resilient Miami is currently collecting the available research and information on what the challenges truly are, how to effectively increase solar power usage in the area, and how to address the challenges that do exist.

Resilient Miami believes that this city is ready for a major push towards broader solar energy use, which would make our city more sustainable while laying the foundation for a greener economy.  If you are interested in learning more and helping us build what could become a sustainable [both environmentally and economically] movement in Miami, please contact us here.



In mid-November 2013, community members from various parts of Miami Beach and Miami joined in on a large scale participatory art piece spanning several Miami neighborhoods.  The mission at hand: to draw the projected sea level rise line, using a soccer-field chalker, along the streets of each respective community.

This demonstration project was HighWaterLine|Miami, and it proved to be a powerful tool for helping individuals visualize what the impact of sea level rise could be as climate change accelerates.

The HighWaterLine project's impact, however, did not end there; it also proved to be an invaluable tool for community building and creating new connections among diverse individuals and organizations.

Chalking on Lincoln Road
Chalking on Lincoln Road

As the chalking was happening, curious residents, business owners and passersby stopped to ask what was happening.  Each time, the person chalking also stopped to engage in the conversation and explain the premise of the project.  Reactions ranged from astonishment, to disbelief, to support, to even more curiosity.  In Miami Beach questioners often did a double take as they were shown how flooding will predominately come not from ocean side, as one would expect, but from the bay side.

In Miami, reactions were mixed as communities members came to terms with what we were showing them through a simple chalk line.  "So my neighborhood, my home, is pretty much gone," was a response echoed several times over throughout each community.

Chalking along Brickell Ave
Chalking along Brickell Ave

Indeed, many homes and neighborhoods are in danger, but the goal of the HighWaterLine project is not to incite fear or panic, but rather to inform communities of what is already happening and empower them to take the necessary steps to respond and overcome to those threats.  After all, many of Miami's communities have been built by tremendously resilient people that have overcome incredible challenges to build a life in this city and country.

The HighWaterLine project, and Resilient Miami moving forward, seek to amplify that inherent strength already present in our communities in order to continue building a strong, vibrant, livable and resilient city.

Anneliese Morales, a community leader in Little Havana had this to share:

“The HighWaterLine project made me realize how important more environmental education, particularly awareness about sea level rise, is to the communities I work with. Though this initiative, we are talking more about the issue and teaching folks how to cope, instead of panic. Moving forward, we have realized different ways we have to  inspire simple changes in our neighborhood one day at a time, with better results overall for the future.”

To stay informed of what we are doing, and learn how you can help, please connect with Resilient Miami here.



Come see what parts of Miami will be underwater due to imminent sea level rise

Follow us on Twitter @ResilientMiami to follow the massive public performance art piece as it unfolds & also to find out where it will physically take place so you can interact with the artists.


Miami Beach

Wednesday, November 13   |  10am-2pm

Thursday, November 14  |  10am-2pm

City of Miami

Sunday, November 17  |  11am-3pm


Heidi at