Washington, D.C. is taking a holistic approach to climate adaptation, addressing all potential future risks and committing to a comprehensive set of adaptive solutions.

The Challenge

Record-breaking heat waves, flooding and heavy rains, and the Derecho storm in 2012 were some of the reminders that without action, Washington, D.C., would see disruptions to its power grid and face increasing economic challenges and worsening health issues. In efforts to adapt to the changing climate, the Climate Ready DC strategy was developed to ensure resilience, and a greener, healthier, and more livable city.

The Solution

Climate Ready DC is Washington, D.C.'s new climate adaptation plan. As part of a holistic planning process, the city worked with technical experts to develop local climate change projections; conduct a vulnerability and risk assessment of infrastructure, community resources, and residents; and identify adaptation actions. In total, 77 actions will address the identified risks across four sectors: utilities and transportation infrastructure; buildings and development; neighborhoods and communities; and governance. In addition to increasing resilience via the actions, the city also remains committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2032 and 80% by 2050. Four goals set by Climate Ready DC include improving transportation and infrastructure to maintain viability during periods of extreme weather; upgrading existing and designing new buildings to withstand climate change impacts; making neighborhoods safer and more prepared; and, finally, establishing the policies and evaluation procedures to ensure successful implementation of adaptation. In one of the initial steps, the city increased tree canopy cover to 38% to reduce the urban heat island effect.

Environmental Benefits – The strategy uses natural solutions, including tree planting, living shorelines, and other green infrastructure, to maximize co-benefits of habitat creation and water quality improvements. Last year, 14,137 trees were planted and around 18,000 m2 of green roofs were installed.

Economic Benefits – The city will leverage existing incentive programs for solar power, energy efficiency, and green infrastructure to help residents improve the resilience of their homes and save money on water and energy bills.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 2017 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in five sectors: Energy, Waste, Adaptation, Mitigation and Transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments. You can access the full Cities100 2017 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
Key Impact
260,000 m2 green roofs installed throughout the city
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