Promoting Smart Growth & Regional Planning
Climate change is expected to vastly impact the Greater Boston region’s environment, infrastructure, economy, and public health.
Climate projections for the region anticipate increases in temperatures, rainfall intensity, and sea level rise. Current research suggests that, by 2030, the region may experience more than twice the number of days each year with temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, sea levels rising nearly a foot, more intense storms, and more frequent flooding and droughts. Damages from these and numerous other severe consequences to public health, safety, property, the environment, and quality of life could potentially cost lives and billions of dollars in damage this century.
MAPC is committed to helping communities reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for the effects of climate change by creating and implementing climate and energy action plans, hazard mitigation plans, energy-use and greenhouse gas inventories, climate vulnerability assessments, and climate resiliency plans.
Limiting the effects of climate change requires that the region and the world take steps to substantially curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Clean energy solutions can help slow and ultimately halt the rise of GHG levels in the atmosphere, lessening the potential harm to the planet. Energy efficiency, renewable energy deployment, transportation mode shift, compact and low-impact development, and many other high- and low-tech strategies, can reduce demand for energy and limit GHG emissions.
While it is essential to continue to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, we also need to prepare for occurring and projected climate changes. For the region, this preparation means understanding the impact that rising sea levels, changing rainfall patterns, natural disasters, and increasing temperatures may have and collaborating to address these challenges.
Regional Approaches to Climate
In MAPC’s 101 cities and towns, subregions and the Metro Mayors Coalition have been undertaking climate-related projects and initiatives.
MAPC closely follows climate legislation and regulation at the state, regional, and federal levels.
- Climate Smart Region Tool
- Keep Cool
- Massachusetts Vehicle Census - catalog of information about vehicles registered in the Commonwealth
- Land Surface Temperature and Vegetation Index Rasters
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Climate mitigation and adaptation technical assistance
In order to lessen the magnitude and impacts of climate change in the future, it’s important to drastically cut carbon emissions by phasing out fossil fuels, switching to low or zero-carbon energy sources, and increasing energy efficiency. At the same time, we need to plan for climate changes that are already occurring and will continue over the course of this century.
For the region, this means understanding the impact that rising sea levels, increasing flooding and drought, and increasing temperatures will have locally and regionally, and planning to face these challenges. Adaptation strategies include changes in land use and relocation, weatherproofing, retrofitting buildings and infrastructure, improving the health and resilience of residents and communities, and protecting natural resources.
MAPC offers technical assistance to help cities and towns mitigate and prepare for the changing climate. On mitigation, MAPC can assist with local energy and climate action planning, energy reduction and net zero plans, energy use baselining, greenhouse gas inventories, collective procurements for climate-smart technologies and energy management services, and more. On adaptation, technical assistance includes but is not limited to completing vulnerability assessments, climate resiliency plans, health assessments, coastal and inland adaptation plans, solar and storage feasibility assessment support, and hazard mitigation planning.
This is just a sampling of our many climate-related services. Check out our Environment, Clean Energy, and Public Health pages for more opportunities to work with us.
Regional Approaches to Climate
Metro Mayors Climate Preparedness Taskforce: On May 13, 2015, the Metro Mayors Coalition convened the first Metro Boston Climate Preparedness Summit and pledged to work together to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas emissions and prepare their communities for climate change, launching a taskforce to address the vulnerabilities of the region’s interdependent and interconnected infrastructure systems and coordinate on regional resiliency efforts. In 2016, the Taskforce expanded its work to include a commitment to become a Net Zero Region by 2050.
Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC): The MAGIC subregion has undertaken numerous projects related to climate mitigation and adaptation, including a climate change resiliency plan, regional solar initiative, and hazard mitigation planning.
North Suburban Planning Council (NSPC): Four towns in the NSPC region completed a local energy plan in 2013 to plan for long-range energy efficiency and renewable energy work.
MAPC supports policies encouraging climate change adaptation and mitigation, including greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy incentives.
MAPC is a member of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, which promotes protecting critical environmental resources and working landscapes as well as healthy and diverse communities, equitable community development, housing and transportation reforms, and urban reinvestment.
The agency also has a seat on the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act Implementation Advisory Committee (GWSA IAC), chaired by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. The IAC advises the administration on implementing the GWSA and features leaders from the business, energy, environmental, building, transportation, and academic communities in Massachusetts.
As cities and towns across Massachusetts examine ways to reduce their energy consumption, it has become increasingly important for them to have access to accurate and timely energy usage data from utilities. Having access to this data allows municipalities to begin setting community-wide usage reduction goals based on real numbers and provides a baseline to which future usage can be compared. While utilities have provided this data on a case-by-case basis in the past, the process for gaining access to the data has often been confusing, time-intensive, and unpredictable. Creating a clear, simple, predictable system that allows municipalities to request this information and receive it in a consistent manner and a timely fashion would be beneficial to municipalities across Massachusetts.
This legislation would allow property owners to finance microgrids and other resiliency measures under the Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy statute that passed last legislative session. Microgrids have been utilized in several other states to increase reliability and ensure buildings remain powered during grid outages. We will also explore whether there are ways to extend this concept to residential buildings.
Community Microgrid Workshop
The Community Microgrid Workshop on June 29th provided an introduction and overview of microgrid technology and its potential in communities across the state. The interactive workshop featured microgrid experts and local governments that have extensive experience in this field.
Tom Bourgeois, US DOE Northeast CHP Technical Assistance Partnership, Deputy Director, Pace Energy and Climate Center Presentation (PDF)
Anthony DeCristofaro, Experienced Energy Industry Development and M&A Consultant , Anbaric & Nicolaas Veraart, Vice President The Louis Berger Group Presentation (PDF)
Meaghan Lefebvre, Project Manager, MassCEC Presentation (PDF)
Scott McBurney, Regional Vice President, Veolia Presentation (PDF)
Galen Nelson, Clean energy program developer & industry development strategist, MassCEC Presentation (PDF)
Cammy Peterson, Director of Clean Energy, MAPC Presentation (PDF)
Laxmi Rao, Director of International Programs, International District Energy Association Presentation (PDF)
Travis Sheehan, Senior Infrastructure Advisor, Boston Redevelopment Authority Presentation (PDF)
Rebecca Sullivan, Senior Vice President, MassDevelopment Presentation (PDF)
Metro Boston Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
MAPC’s Metro Boston Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (2015) gives recommendations for local, regional, and state action to reduce vulnerability to the anticipated impacts of climate change. The Strategy builds on the findings of several publications, including the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report (2011). In May 2015, the MAPC Executive Committee voted to amend the regional plan, MetroFuture, by adding the Region Climate Adaptation Strategy as a new component of the regional plan.
While forming the Strategy, MAPC reached out to cities and towns in the Boston Metro region to learn more about how climate change adaptation is currently being addressed. We also worked to engage populations that may be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change and/or have a reduced ability to adapt, whether by virtue of economic status, social capacity and resources, health, age, or geography.
An analysis of the key vulnerabilities across five facets of life and across the built and natural environment in Metro Boston, from coastal zones to the local economy.
Objectives designed to provide a framework for accomplishing the primary climate change goal that was adopted in 2008 as part of the MetroFuture Regional Plan, Goal 11: The region to be prepared for, and resilient to, natural disasters and climate change.
Important recommendations for change that must be realized if the region is to be more socially, economically, and physically resilient in the face of climate change. It provides a single resource for decision makers in various roles across the region.
MAPC uses the Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategy as a guide to conducting its local and subregional climate adaptation projects and it’s climate policy work.