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What’s So Exciting About Infrastructure?

Samuel Carter - Former Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

Key Takeaways:

SHARE THISBy 2030 approximately 75% of U.S. infrastructure will either need to be renovated or built from scratch.
SHARE THISBuild America—announced by the White House and Rockefeller Foundation—encourages a forward-thinking approach to infrastructure.
SHARE THISThe White House’s “Federal Guide to Infrastructure Planning and Design” features new principles for planning and design.


Infrastructure—it’s not just for engineers and urban planners anymore. Anyone who cares about smart development, or even about hopping an on-time train from one great city to the next, should have an interest here. Remarkably, in the United States we expect that by 2035, approximately 75 percent of the nation’s infrastructure will either need to be renovated or built from scratch. That’s hugebut it’s also what’s exciting: We know so much more today than we did even a decade ago about how to design, finance, and construct infrastructure so that it is not only built to last, but yields multiple benefits whenever possible.

“By 2030 approximately 75 percent of the nation’s infrastructure will either need to be renovated or built from scratch.”

This is the core principle behind the Build America initiative, which The Rockefeller Foundation announced last year with the White House. It’s a forward-thinking approach to infrastructure planning and investment that encourages more up-front thinking for better long-term results. It makes it possible for the federal government to partner with local and state governments as well as the private sector to align on creating the kind of resilient infrastructure that America needs.

Today, we are proud to co-host with our Build America partners a roundtable called “Building the Project Pipeline. Because as important as infrastructure is to every aspect of life across the nation—particularly economic life—too often it is planned with only immediate needs in mind. Today’s roundtable is bringing together leading experts and creative thinkers on infrastructure planning and design to explain exactly how up-front investments in planning and design can help achieve better project outcomes. We call this “pre-development” and it allows dollars to be better spent, particularly with an eye to enhancing community resilience, increasing financing options, and yielding a multitude of benefits.

Over the past decade, The Rockefeller Foundation has invested more than a half-billion dollars to improve the resilience of communities, towns, and regions throughout the globe. Here at home, our partnerships with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other federal agencies have made it possible for them to innovate—through competitions like Rebuild by Design and The National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC)—and, now, Build America—to surface and deliver projects that will make communities more resilient.

Want to know more? A new resource is available to all: The White House just released a comprehensive Federal Guide to Infrastructure Planning and Design. This Guide incorporates programs and opportunities from ten federal agencies and lays out a new set of principles to inform the work of utilities, local governments, planners and other stakeholders around the U.S. Plus, the Guide includes a comprehensive list of all federal programs that can help local, state and tribal governments in the early stages of a project’s life. It also contains a set of principles for planning and design that, we hope, will be a resource for communities around the country as they build projects that will define growth and development in the decades ahead. And be sure to keep watching this space.


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