Sustainability and Resiliency: Verity Frizzell, FAIA

April 22, 2019

Sustainability and Resiliency: Verity Frizzell, FAIA, for Bay Head, NJ, Camp Osborne Sustainable Design Assessment Team, Commitment 2030 Education and East Coast Green Conference


Day two of National Architecture Week 2019 is EARTH DAY! Today we share how architects design sustainable projects that will help us reach our 2030 Commitment goals. In the Sustainability and Resilience Spotlight is Immediate Past President Verity Frizzell, FAIA, and her tireless commitment to help us reach the 2030 Challenge.



Applying her passion and energy to serve the causes she believes in – her community, her profession, her core values – Verity Frizzell has answered the call to resiliently rebuild damaged communities of New Jersey.


Not only has Ms. Frizzell prioritized her personal education in resilient design, but she has facilitated the opportunity for hundreds of peers to also become properly versed in the subject to push towards a much greater goal than her single influence could ever have.  

Verity Frizzell and her Environmental Professional Peers with Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA, at Disaster Assistance Educator Training in 2016


Frizzell and her family sheltered in place at their home in Bay Head, N.J., when Superstorm Sandy hit. The next day, she was cleaning up debris and feeding her neighbors; soon she was rewriting the town ordinances and gaining expertise on FEMA and insurance regulations that would guide her clients through the difficult rebuilding process. In the following months, she shared her knowledge with architects and others to help residents all along the shore. She took advantage of her local connections to gain access to the restricted communities so that Mickey Jacob, FAIA, then AIA National President, could witness the devastation; the AIA ultimately funded the Camp Osborn SDAT and the Regional

Recovery Working Group, in which Frizzell participated. When the new FIRM Advisory Flood Elevation maps for hard-hit communities were released, she appealed to lawmakers in Trenton, working with representatives from the Governor’s Office and the Department of Community Affairs and asking them to intervene with FEMA; her successful efforts allowed thousands of modest homeowners to rebuild. Frizzell was trained by Michael Lingerfelt, FAIA, LEED AP, to be a registered Disaster Service Worker, able to help local governments perform accurate facility-safety assessments in the aftermath of a disaster; she has also earned certification as a Safety Assessment Program educator to train others.


From early in her career, Frizzell has been passionate about slowing climate change and addressing its impact on the environment. As an officer of AIA Jersey Shore, Frizzell made green building and sustainability a priority for all continuing education, bringing Edward Mazria, Executive Director of Architecture 2030, and other sustainability expert speakers to local meetings.


As Committee on the Environment (COTE) chair for AIA-NJ, Frizzell proposed a green building conference to commemorate the one-third point on the journey to 2030. What had previously been a one-day green building workshop became a three-day event with prominent keynote speakers, a trade show, AIA-NJ Design Awards, and enough continuing education classes to fulfill the required 18 HSW credits in a single event. East Coast Green became a model conference and earned AIA-NJ a Grassroots Excellence Award.


Concurrently, Frizzell helped develop and facilitate a series of LEED Study Groups. At the time, the examination for becoming a LEED Accredited Professional was changing. AIA-NJ COTE Committee strove to have as many architects as possible earn LEED Accreditation. To achieve this goal, AIA-NJ ran a series of six study groups in various locations throughout the state.

Frizzell facilitated study groups in two of the locations for the first round, serving a total of 43 students. Several years later, when the exam changed again, she updated the content of the program and organized an additional series, running one of the four sessions and assisting another 15 students in preparing for the exam. These LEED accredited members have taken the knowledge gained at these events and used it in their own practices, at career days, and in talks at service club lunches, spreading the message of sustainability to the public.


Recognition for Outstanding Efforts:


Certificate of Appreciation for Chairing the East Coast Green Conference, AIA-NJ, 2010 and 2012

With Frizzell’s vision, this conference grew from a single day to three days. The conference was planned to coincide with AIA-NJ’s annual Design Day.


AIA Grassroots Excellence Award Continuing Education Outstanding Single Program, 2011

Given to AIA-NJ for an Outstanding Single Program in Continuing Education for the East Coast Green

Conference, chaired by Verity Frizzell, AIA.


Borough of Bay Head Honors, 2013

When Superstorm Sandy ravaged the northeast in 2012, Frizzell’s hometown was particularly hard hit: Many residents followed the mandatory evacuation order and returned to find three feet of sand in their homes; other homes were torn in half and carried down the street by the storm’s force.

Borough-owned property alone incurred $1.9 billion in damage; Borough Hall and fire department were wiped out. Frizzell reached out to the mayor, with whom she had worked on the planning board, and began to rewrite the town ordinances. Following the storm, the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for the region were revised, making it cost prohibitive for many homeowners to raise their homes above the flood plain. Advocating for her friends, neighbors, and clients, she met with representatives from the Governor’s Office and the Department of Community Affairs in Trenton to appeal to FEMA to revise the maps; her successful efforts made a significant difference to communities across the state.


State of New Jersey Senate and General Assembly Resolution of Commendation for Service to the

Community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, 2016

As a result of her work in Bay Head, Frizzell was recognized by the state for having “compiled outstanding records of service and achievement on behalf of the Bay Head community… and [she is] especially appreciated for [her} tireless work in the recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.”


Camp Osborne Sustainability Design Assessment Team, 2013

Verity Frizzell, Lead designer for winning team

Camp Osborn, in Brick Township, NJ, consisted of 105 tiny bungalows on three parcels of land that had developed organically from as early as 1896; three associations owned the land and leased it back

to the homeowners. It was densely packed and did not conform to modern building codes or the current zoning ordinance; houses had been “grandfathered” over many generations. Because all but seven of

the homes were completely destroyed in Superstorm Sandy, any rebuilding had to conform to current zoning regulations: On a parcel where 89 houses had been, 16 could be rebuilt.


AIA-NJ convened a Sustainable Design Assessment Team composed of architects, engineers, and planners from across the state. The interdisciplinary SDAT team organized a town hall meeting to bring together residents, representatives from FEMA, the police and fire departments, and the Mayor and council members.

The SDAT broke into design teams and held a charrette to generate ideas. The individual design teams

developed their ideas and presented several options to the Mayor and Council and the Building and Zoning Departments for their blessing. The design by Frizzell and her partner was ultimately selected and was presented to the residents at a public meeting which was covered by New Jersey News 12 for that evening’s broadcast.

Frizzell and her partner satisfied both the residents’ needs and the requirements of the local jurisdiction.

By explaining the design, Frizzell gave the residents of Camp Osborn hope at a time of great despair and

hopelessness; it gave them a vision of how their community could look and feel in the face of devastation.

The collaboration between the design professionals, the residents, and the jurisdictional authorities demonstrates in a powerful way how community collaboration leads to resilience.


Resilient Design in a Post-Sandy World Presentation, 2013

Verity Frizzell, Author & Presenter


The concept of resilient design came about after Super Storm Sandy devastated New Jersey and New York, causing extensive damage and mass confusion as people struggled to rebuild. Many people had lost everything they had and did not know where to turn for advice on how to move forward or how to navigate the complicated maze of FEMA and flood insurance regulations.


As keynote speaker at one of a series of eight Resilient Design Roundtable events at NJIT, Frizzell presented a number of design options to consider for rebuilding along the Jersey Shore to lessen damage from future natural disasters and aid in recovery when disaster does strike.

Frizzell gave a key presentation at the conference, specifically geared toward rebuilding in a resilient way.

She explained the FEMA regulations and discussed different methods of construction which would withstand the forces of a storm, as well as complying with the regulations. She explained the various flood zones and their requirements in plain language and used real-world examples for each scenario, taking a theoretical concept and making it real.

Frizzell repeated the presentation at AIA-NJ Design Day in 2013 and at a meeting of the fledgling AIA-NJ

Women in Architecture Committee meeting in 2014, reaching more than 200 members.

Since this time, Resiliency has become a topic that is frequently discussed by the profession in order

to rebuild to better withstand hazards.


In the aftermath of Sandy, there were a number of heroes. One of those was Verity Frizzell, who gave her time and talents as an architect and designer to help people rebuild stronger and smarter.

Thomas G. Dallessio, AICP/PP/FRSA.

President, CEO + Publisher, Next City

By | Posted in AIA Jersey Shore, Disaster Response, Environment, Members & the Community, NJ Architect Newsletter, Women in Architecture | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments (0)



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