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Climate Adaptation

U.S. Businesses Could Face $13.5 Billion From Flood Damage Next Year

A First Street Foundation study of commercial real estate found that buildings in some areas, such as Pittsburgh, are exposed to surprisingly high flood risk

The Allegheny River flows next to downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Allegheny River flows next to downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg 

Pittsburgh is more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from the nearest coast, yet its office and retail buildings face $420 million in exposure to flood damage, or the third-greatest of any city in the U.S., according to a report published Monday. Commercial structures across the U.S could face up to $13.5 billion in damage in 2022, an amount that will rise at least 25% over the next 30 years as climate change exacerbates flooding from sea rise, storms and extreme rain events, according to First Street Foundation.

The report is the fourth on flooding from the Brooklyn-based technology startup whose goal is to publicize climate risks. The group collaborated with the commercial engineering firm Arup. The authors said that while residential flooding threats are well studied, the risks that climate change poses to commercial buildings are less familiar to the public. That’s problematic because commercial real estate is some of the nation’s most valuable, and provides essential tax revenue to municipalities.