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Climate change may complicate community efforts to maintain their outdoor air quality standards. Those working to attain air quality standards may find reaching those goals more difficult. Indoor air quality is threatened by more frequent and intense storms, as a result of climate change, and is expected to increase more damp conditions that are ideal for the growth of indoor fungi and mold.

The climate has a direct impact on the earth’s natural ecosystems. Species may migrate with the changing climate and sea level changes may lead to the mixing of salt water with freshwater, killing key species and disrupting the ecosystem balance. Ecosystem changes may affect land development or regional cultures and economies that rely on the availability of natural resources.

  • Climate Ready Estuaries website
  • Climate Ready Estuaries: Synthesis of Adaptation Options for Coastal Areas
    This guide provides a brief introduction to key physical impacts of climate change on estuaries and a review of on-the-ground adaptation options available to coastal managers to reduce their systems' vulnerability to climate change impacts.
  • Being Prepared for Climate Change: A Workbook for Developing Risk-Based Adaptation Plans
    This workbook presents a guide to climate change adaptation planning based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's experience with watershed management, the National Estuary Program and the Climate Ready Estuaries program. The Workbook will assist organizations that manage environmental resources to prepare a broad, risk-based adaptation plan.
  • Residential Invasive Species Removal Guide
    This guide from Reconnecting to Our Waterways was developed as a tool to help people become educated on the detriment caused by invasive plant species and to learn the best ways to manage invasive plants growing on their property. Although the guide was designed for residents in Indianapolis, the resource can be relevant throughout parts of the Midwest.
  • Rolling Easements Primer
    This document provides a primer on more than a dozen land use and legal tools for protecting intertidal habitats (wetlands, mudflats, and beaches). Rolling easements help ensure that these habitats can persist even as sea level rises.
  • Collaborative Guide: A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching
    The Collaborative Guide: A Reef Manager's Guide to Coral Bleaching provides coral reef managers with the latest scientific information on the causes of coral bleaching and new management strategies for responding to this significant threat to coral reef ecosystems.

The most common source of energy used by society involves burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels leads to increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that absorb or trap heat from the sun in Earth’s atmosphere, raising global temperatures and altering the climate. People have an opportunity to mitigate climate change by switching to clean energy sources and efficient energy systems.

  • U.S. Global Change Research Program - Energy Supply and Use
    This web-hosted report discusses the impacts of climate change to the U.S. energy supply. Extreme weather, changing seasonal energy needs, decrease in water availability and damage to infrastructure resulting from rising sea levels are examined. The report addresses the role of decision-makers in preparing their communities and the nation for changes to the energy supply.  

Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources

  • Clean Grid Alliance Wind Project Map
    This resource from the Clean Energy Alliance is an interactive map of the existing, under construction, and proposed wind projects across the United States.
  • County Strategies for Successfully Managing and Promoting Wind Power
    This guide from the National Association of Counties and Distributed Wind Energy Association helps counties lay the groundwork to implement wind ordinances. It provides case studies of counties that have successfully created wind ordinances and launched projects and best practices.
  • Planning for Solar Energy
    This American Planning Association document provides resources for local governments to assess solar technologies, understand their costs and benefits, and learn how to regulate development to enable and encourage solar installations in a variety of scales and contexts. The document includes a checklist for auditing local plans and a model framework for solar energy development regulations.
  • Planning for Wind Energy
    This American Planning Association document gives communities the tools to begin implementing wind projects. It describes the benefits, debunks the myths, and provides point-by-point checklists for incorporating wind energy into planning and zoning. Real-world case studies share success stories and lessons learned from communities where wind energy is already at work.
  • Solar for Municipalities
    This resource, offered by the nonprofit organization Solar United Neighbors, reviews the benefits of solar (e.g., resilience, cost savings, job creation, local economic development), how to get started, solar ownership models, funding opportunities and alternative financing models - all for municipalities. 
  • Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments
    This guide from the Department of Energy describes different solar policies or programs. The guide provides information on the benefits of solar, tips for implementation, and has additional reports, references, and tools.
  • Solar Power Purchase Agreements - A Toolkit for Local Governments
    Released in 2015 by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, this guidebook provides all the information local governments need for pursuing a solar power purchase agreement, or a long-term contract to purchase power from a third-party owner and operator of a solar energy generation system. The resource focuses on legal documents, RFP design and implementation, example RFPs, executed power purchase agreements and more. 
  • Valuing the Resilience Provided by Solar and Battery Energy Storage Systems
    This white paper from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides information about resilient power systems using solar and battery energy. With more frequent severe storms, power outages are expected to increase. Often when an outage occurs, diesel-powered generators back-up the failing grid. During severe outages, however, refueling generators can be costly or logistically difficult to manage during crises. This report discusses how solar and battery energy storage systems may make your community more resilient.

Distribution Mechanisms 

  • Climate Change and Its Impact on Infrastructure Systems in Indiana
    This report from Midwest Economic Policy Institute focuses on the impact climate change will have on Indiana's electricity and transportation systems, and offers a discussion on how local governments can protect their investments by mitigating against these impacts.

Energy Efficiency

  • Building Upgrade Manual
    The ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual is a strategic guide that can help local governments implement profitable energy-saving building upgrades. Governments can maximize energy savings by sequentially following the five building upgrade stages: retrocommissioning, lighting, supplemental load reduction, air distribution systems, and heating and cooling upgrades. 
  • Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities - A Guide to Developing and Implementing Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs
    This guide from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series" provides an overview of project benefits, policy mechanisms, investments, key stakeholders and other implementation considerations.
  • Local Energy Efficiency Benefits and Opportunities
    This USEPA site includes opportunities for improving energy efficiency in local government operations, water and wastewater facilities, non-governmental buildings, and residential buildings. The site also includes resources on developing energy efficiency programs with utilities.
  • Local Governments' Role in Energy Project Financing 
    This guide from the Institute for Market Transformation and MIT Community Innovators Lab helps cities weigh energy efficiency finance strategies and choose policies tailored to specific market needs in their community.

Climate change may affect our ability to maintain our agriculture economy. A farmer’s ability to have a successful harvest is directly related to the climate. Altered temperatures, soil moisture, and precipitation may change the yield and quality of many crops. Opportunities to mitigate and adapt to climate change can be found in strengthening local food systems and using innovative methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in food production.

  • A Government Guide on Building Local Food Economies: A guide for planners, economic developers, and local government professionals
    This tool connects planners, economic developers, small business developers, and other local government professionals with resources to improve their regional food economies. The guide focuses on North Carolina examples but provides general guidance for local and regional governments.
  • Climate Change and Agriculture in the United States: Effects and Adaptation
    This report, produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, details the vulnerabilities to agriculture in the U.S. brought on by climate change. The report discusses the U.S. agriculture industry’s ability to adapt to climate change if that effort is made intentionally, with the impacts of climate change in mind.
  • Climate Impacts on Agriculture and Food Supply
    This resource by the USEPA outlines the threats that climate change poses to agriculture. By organizing the information into three categories – crops, livestock, and fisheries – the resource cites statistics and highlights risks to be aware of whether the reader is in the food service industry, a farmer or a consumer. The threat to food security and the economic impacts of climate change on agriculture are also examined.
  • Government Plans to Address Waste of Foods
    This report provides an overview of existing approaches in governmental plans to address wasted food and shares recommendations to guide future efforts.
  • Growing Local: A Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems
    This guide from Growing Food Connections offers policies and practices for local governments seeking to strengthen their community food system. Innovative plans, programs, public investments, and other policies of both urban and rural efforts are highlighted.
  • Soil Safety Resource Guide for Urban Food Growers
    This guide covers the basics of urban soil contaminants and provides a list of available resources to address issues of interest to urban farms.
  • U.S. Global Change Research Program - Agriculture
    This web-hosted report explains how climate change is expected to impact agriculture in the U.S. Agriculture is highly susceptible to climate variations and is vulnerable to direct and indirect impacts. The report highlights adaptation strategies to mitigate catastrophic crop losses and answers questions about what agricultural decision-makers can do to adapt to climate change.

Scientists expect climate change to affect public health and the economy on local to global scales. Local, county, state, tribal and federal governments have the opportunity to prepare for forecasted changes to our climate and environment by taking preventative actions now rather than reactive actions later. Many government representatives recognize the importance of the environment to their community's vitality and are implementing environmental resilience into their plans and policies by mitigating or adapting to climate change.

Adaptation Planning

Comprehensive Adaptation Planning

Sector-Based Adaptation Planning

Greenhouse Gas Inventories and Mitigation

  • U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    This detailed technical document walks users through the methodologies and best practices that help local governments measure and report the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their communities. The scope of this Protocol includes emissions from businesses, residents and transportation.
  • Global Protocol for Community-Scale Emissions (GPC)
    This resource is the global counterpart of the U.S. Community Protocol. While the U.S. Community Protocol provides more detailed methodology tailored to U.S. communities, any community that wants to report to international registries such as carbonn Climate Registry should also consult the GPC. The GPC is designed to give cities the standards and tools they need to measure their emissions, build more effective emissions reduction strategies, set measurable and more ambitious emission reduction goals and track their progress more accurately and comprehensively.
  • Local Government Operations Protocol
    This resource provides detailed guidance on how to calculate emissions from the buildings, facilities and vehicles operated by a local government. 
  • Recycling and Composting Emissions Protocol
    This guidance document is intended to help local governments account for the overall net emissions benefits of recycling and composting activities in their communities, as well as to estimate additional emissions reductions that occur outside the boundary of a community inventory. This Protocol complements the Community Protocol (see above) by providing additional guidance on accounting for the emissions benefits of recycling and composting activities in a community.

Resilience Planning

  • Resilient Midwestern Cities: Improving Equity in a Changing Climate
    This report from the Center for American Progress provides information on how the dangerous effects of climate change will hit hardest in low-income communities and communities of color, where residents confront daily the symptoms of historic inequities. The document includes five case studies of Midwestern cities who are building resilience to climate change in low-income areas.

Climate change impacts, such as higher average temperatures and increased storm frequency and intensity, can intensify public health stressors including decreased air and water quality, accidental exposure to chemicals and extreme heat.

Overview: Public Health

Air

Water

Chemical Exposure & Waste Management

Extreme Heat

  • USEPA's Heat Island Effect
    Learn about how climate change and heat islands interact, how USEPA is helping communities reduce heat islands, and the strategies to reduce the heat island effect: trees and vegetation, green roofs, cools roofs, cool pavements, and smart growth.
  • Climate Change and Extreme Heat: What You Can Do to Prepare
    This booklet answers some of the key questions about extreme heat in a changing climate (e.g., Why is extreme heat on the rise? How might extreme heat affect you? What you can do before and during an extreme heat event to reduce your health risk?).
  • Excessive Heat Events Guidebook
    Designed to help community officials, emergency managers, meteorologists and others plan for and respond to excessive heat events, the guidebook highlights best practices that have been employed to save lives during excessive heat events in different urban areas and provides a menu of options that officials can use to respond to these events in their communities.

The transportation sector is responsible for negatively impacting air quality— affecting public health and welfare — and hastening global warming. Modes of transportation that rely on fossil fuel combustion emit nonpoint source ozone, particulates and greenhouse gases into the air. Also, the resulting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are absorbed by water molecules to create acidic precipitation that alters environments hundreds or thousands of miles away from the source of pollution. There are a number of options for strengthening communities' environmental resilience that focus on the transportation sector.

  • Alternative Fuels Price Reports, Alternative Fuels Data Center
    These Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Reports provide regional alternative and conventional fuels prices for biodiesel, compressed natural gas, ethanol, hydrogen, propane, gasoline, and diesel.
  • Climate Impacts on Transportation
    This USEPA webpage provides information about expected impacts on transportation resulting from climate change. The information is split into three overarching categories – land-based, air, and marine transportation – each further divided into subcategories.
  • Creating Walkable and Bikeable Communities
    Published in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this guidebook provides detailed information about planning processes to build walkable and bikeable communities, the benefits of active transportation, a description of bike- and pedestrian-friendly land use practices, project ideas, design tools, implementation practices, a community self-assessment tool and more. 
  • How to Develop a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Action Plan
    Published in 2017, this guide is intended to help state and local officials decide where to begin to address pedestrian and bicycle safety issues. It will help agencies enhance their existing safety programs and activities, including identifying safety problems and selecting optimal solutions. The resource provides information on understanding safety problems, identifying safety data, vision development, stakeholder engagement best practices, funding strategies and more. 
  • U.S. Global Change Research Program - Transportation
    This web-hosted report forecasts disruptions to transportation systems expected to result from climate change. Expected costs and various adaptation options are discussed. By incorporating climate change into transportation planning, the negative consequences to transportation can be reduced.

Communities' efforts to ensure the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes can be complicated by climate change. Contaminated site management will become more difficult due to the increased incidence of flooding and other climate impacts that threaten the effectiveness of cleanup efforts. The safe and timely management of disaster debris can be impacted by more frequent and more powerful natural disasters, requiring more resources and greater coordination and planning efforts.

Overview: Waste Management & Emergency Response

Contaminated Site Management

Disaster Debris Management

  • Waste Management Planning to Mitigate the Impact of Climate Change  Climate change is expected to produce more frequent and powerful natural disasters, which will increase the amount of disaster-related waste generated. Communities can adapt to these disasters and increase their resiliency by preparing for these disasters through pre-incident planning.
  • Rebuild Healthy Homes: Guide to Post-Disaster Restoration for a Safe and Healthy Home 
    This guide, produced by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, was developed to help homeowners, volunteers and other workers to restore damaged homes in a way that puts people first. It includes how-to methods, tips and improvement ideas for safe restoration that result in not just a livable dwelling, but a healthy home that offers even more than before.

Climate change impacts are likely to affect the programs designed to protect water quality, public health and safety. Climate risks from more frequent and intense storms, sea-level rise and warmer temperatures can all pose challenges to water utility operations and water quality maintenance.

Overview: Water

Green Infrastructure

  • Great Lakes Regional Green Infrastructure Policy Analysis: Addressing Barriers to Implementation
    The Great Lakes Commission released this report, which outlines steps to increase the adoption of green infrastructure in communities across the Great Lakes. The document provides recommendations to federal, state and provincial, and local policymakers in the U.S. and Canada to decrease the amount of stormwater running off into area waterways and eventually into the Great Lakes. Stormwater runoff polluants to waterways.

Water Management

  • Climate Impacts on Water Resources 
  • Stormwater Calculator Technical Fact Sheet (PDF)(1 pg, 396 K)
    A factsheet on how to use the Stormwater Calculator tool to include future climate vulnerability scenarios when estimating the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site.
  • Green Infrastructure for Climate Resiliency Brochure
    Information on how green infrastructure practices can help communities prepare for and manage the effects of climate change. This brochure focuses on several topics, among them increasing water management efficiency, managing stormwater, preparing for drought and protecting coastal areas.
  • State Water Agency Practices for Climate Adaptation
    Descriptions of innovative practices that state water agencies are currently implementing to reduce their vulnerability to climate-related impacts and to build resilience to climate change. These select state practices can serve as useful models for other state agencies seeking to make water programs more resilient to climate change.

Water Utility Operations

Case Studies from Other Sources

Apart from ERIT, there are many other online resource centers that provide case studies on climate adaptation and greenhouse gas mitigation projects completed by local governments in the U.S.