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In the News: Protecting your business assets from extreme weather

For those of us here in the North East, it’s hard to believe that a year has already passed since Hurricane Sandy hit. The superstorm, which made landfall in October 2012, resulted in a staggering $68 billion in damages, making it the second costliest weather event in the history of the US.

With that in mind – and the hurricane season already in full swing – the Harvard Business Review recently discussed what business owners in vulnerable regions can do to protect their assets from extreme weather and other climate.

One tactic that kept surfacing was investment in so-called green infrastructure. Specifically, the folks over at Harvard Business Review cited several case studies indicating that businesses in regions most likely to be impacted by extreme weather would most benefit from investing in natural solutions – such as preserving coastal wetlands and reefs to manage rainwater – as opposed to spending on “gray infrastructure” such as man-made dams, water treatment facilities and levees.

The authors provide the example of Shell’s Petroleum Development Oman company, which uses constructed wetlands that uses sunlight, reeds, and gravity to treat produced water from oil fields in place of extensive water treatment and injection operations. The latter, gray option would have required significant electric power and produced high greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn would’ve cost a lot more. You see, power consumption and CO2 emissions were reduced by 98 percent with the natural wetlands plan, which in turn lowered operating expenses significantly.

Further, the report suggests that “companies with common challenges can identify savvy, shared investments in green solutions for wastewater treatment, desalination, or coastal defense and potentially collaborate on new green infrastructure opportunities at co-located assets.” The authors add that vulnerable businesses should “run the numbers on green infrastructure solutions. The calculations are likely to show that green options are the best investments.”

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