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Climate

MAPC

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.

Our Work

Mitigation

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.

Adaptation

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.

Climate Policy

MAPC closely follows climate legislation and regulation at the state, regional, and federal levels.

Data

Tools

Data Sets

  • Massachusetts Vehicle Census - catalog of information about vehicles registered in the Commonwealth
  • Land Surface Temperature and Vegetation Index Rasters

Contact Information:

Cammy Peterson
Director of Clean Energy
cpeterson@mapc.org
617.933.0791

Martin Pillsbury
Environmental Planning Director
mpillsburg@mapc.org
617.933.0747

Work with us

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.

Climate and energy action plans, including net-zero and energy reduction plans, detail specific steps for a city, town, or region to use to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change. Planners will look over a town’s specific resources, energy use, emissions, geography, demographics, health indicators, and more to make program and policy suggestions and lay out implementation steps. To learn more, please visit the Clean Energy page and contact Cammy Peterson at cpeterson@mapc.org.
Before identifying energy goals and implementation strategies, municipalities should have an understanding of the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in their communities as a whole. MAPC can help towns and cities build an energy use and/or emissions profile of their communities as a whole, including the municipal, residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. Because residential, commercial, and industrial data is currently not available at the municipal level from utilities, MAPC can help build a profile based on census data, labor statistics, and building energy survey analyses. To learn more, please visit the Clean Energy page and contact Cammy Peterson at cpeterson@mapc.org.
MAPC offers collective procurement programs to advance clean energy adoption on a regional scale, giving purchasers the cost savings of bulk ordering. From pioneering a green municipal aggregation model to leading the state in LED streetlight implementation to driving energy efficiency retrofits, MAPC has proven effective in optimizing economies of scale. Our collective procurement opportunities also include municipal solar, energy resiliency, and green fleet technology purchases, such as hybrid conversions for municipal vans and trucks. To learn more, please visit the Clean Energy Page and contact Cammy Peterson at cpeterson@mapc.org.
Climate vulnerability assessments establish the foundation for climate adaptation planning by examining a town, city, or region’s specific vulnerabilities to climate change. These assessments review local ecosystems, geography, infrastructure, health conditions, economics, vulnerable populations, and projected change and growth to evaluate what areas, structures, or population groups are vulnerable to rising sea levels, natural disasters, flooding, drought, extreme heat, and other consequences of the changing climate. A vulnerability assessment suggests where to focus adaptation efforts and how to plan for the future. To learn more, please visit the Environment page and contact Martin Pillsbury at mpillsbury@mapc.org.
Hazard mitigation plans identify actions that can reduce the dangers to life and property from natural hazard events, including hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, and earthquakes. For the cities and towns in the Boston Metro region, hazard mitigation planning tends to focus most on flooding and coastal hazards. Once hazards are identified, their potential for harm is limited through long-term strategies such as land use planning, changes in policy, educational programs, public works projects, and preservation of floodplains and wetlands. Through the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, municipalities need to adopt local multi-hazard mitigation plans and update them every five years to be eligible to receive FEMA funding for hazard mitigation grants. MAPC provides assistance to cities and towns to develop and update their local Hazard Mitigation Plans to meet the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act. To learn more, please visit the Environment page and contact Martin Pillsbury at mpillsbury@mapc.org.
Climate resiliency plans build on vulnerability assessments and hazard studies to recommend and prioritize adaptation and resiliency strategies for a municipality or region. Depending on where a town is most vulnerable, these plans can focus on climate resiliency in general or specifically adapting to and preparing for coastal flooding ,sea level rise, extreme weather and heat, and impacts to specific populations. To learn more, please visit the Environment page and contact Martin Pillsbury at mpillsbury@mapc.org.
Health impact assessments (HIA) aim to describe the potential health effects of plans, policies, or programs and determine who will be most affected. HIAs also offer recommendations to enhance positive health effects and mitigate or eliminate negative ones. Policies to mitigate climate change often have health benefits, while greenhouse gas emissions often have a detrimental impact on health. MAPC conducts HIAs at the regional, state, and national levels, often in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. For more information, visit the Public Health page or contact Public Health Director Barry Keppard at bkeppard@mapc.org.

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.

Climate Policy

MAPC supports policies encouraging climate change adaptation and mitigation, including greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy incentives.

Our Work

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.

Legislation

“An act relative to utility data transparency and access"
Bills filed by Senator Jason Lewis (S.1858) and Representative Paul Brodeur (H.3386)

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.

Microgrids

An act authorizing resiliency measure under commercial property assessed clean energy”
Bills filed by Senator Joseph Boncore (S.1825) and Representative Mark Cusack (H.2687)

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.

Workshop Agenda

Speakers

Tom BourgeoisUS DOE Northeast CHP Technical Assistance Partnership, Deputy Director, Pace Energy and Climate Center Presentation (PDF)
Anthony DeCristofaroExperienced Energy Industry Development and M&A Consultant , Anbaric & Nicolaas VeraartVice President The Louis Berger Group Presentation (PDF)
Meaghan LefebvreProject Manager, MassCEC Presentation (PDF)
Scott McBurneyRegional Vice President, Veolia Presentation (PDF)
Galen NelsonClean energy program developer & industry development strategist, MassCEC Presentation (PDF)
Cammy PetersonDirector of Clean Energy, MAPC Presentation (PDF)
Laxmi RaoDirector of International Programs, International District Energy Association Presentation (PDF)
Travis SheehanSenior Infrastructure Advisor, Boston Redevelopment Authority Presentation (PDF)
Rebecca SullivanSenior 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.

The Strategy

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.