Adaptation Examples in the Northeast
Adaptation Examples in the Northeast
On This Page
- Philadelphia prevents heat related deaths
- City of Keene releases a Climate Resilience Action Plan
- New York City prepares for climate change
- Philadelphia developed a comprehensive plan to prevent heat-related deaths that uses public announcements, cooling centers, a hotline, and home visits.
- Keene, New Hampshire is using information about climate change to foster business development and create job retraining programs for workers in industries that could be negatively affected by projected warming.
- New York City is working with FEMA to update flood zones, partnering with residents to plant a million trees, and encouraging builders to use green infrastructure to reduce the impact of climate change in the city.
- The EPA Climate Ready Estuaries program is helping communities in the Northeast develop plans to protect coastal resources.
- Groton, Connecticut Coastal Climate Adaptation Workshop: Meeting Notes and Presentations
- Connecticut Steering Committee on Climate Change: Connecticut Climate Action Plan 2005
- Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection: Coastal Hazards in Connecticut
- Maine DEP: Maine Adaptation Plan: People and Nature Adapting to a Changing Climate: Charting Maine's Course (PDF)
- Maryland Commission on Climate Change Adaptation and Response and Scientific and Technical Working Groups: Maryland Strategy for Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change: Phase II (PDF)
- Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs: Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report
- Climate's Long-Term Impacts on Metro Boston (CLIMB) (PDF)
- City of Keene, New Hampshire: Creating Community Resiliency- Process, Challenges, Solutions (PDF)
- City of Keene, New Hampshire: Adapting to Climate Change: Planning a Climate Resilient Community (PDF)
- New Hampshire DEP: New Hampshire Climate Action Plan
- New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force: New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force Report (PDF)
- New York State Climate Action Council: New York State Climate Action Plan Interim Report, Chapter 11: Adapting to Climate Change (PDF)
- NYSERDA: Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State
- New York City Panel on Climate Change: Climate Risk Information (PDF)
- New York City Panel on Climate Change: Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response
- Pennsylvania DEP: Pennsylvania Climate Adaptation Planning Report: Risks and Practical Recommendations (PDF)
Federal and Regional
- EPA Region 1 (including the Northeast states of CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT
- EPA Region 2 (including the Northeast states of NJ and NY
- EPA Region 3 (including the Northeast states of DC, DE, MD, PA, WV
- Clean Air-Cool Planet: Preparing for the Changing Climate: A Northeast-Focused Needs Assessment (PDF)
- Northeast Climate Impacts: Confronting climate change in the U.S. Northeast: Science, Impacts, and Solutions (PDF)
- Coastal Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region
- Georgetown Climate Center: Adaptation Clearinghouse
Efforts to prepare for climate change are underway in the Northeast. The region will likely face a variety of impacts from climate change, including more frequent heat waves, increases in intense precipitation, and sea level rise. Learn more about climate change impacts in the Northeast in the Northeast Impacts section.
Below are examples of ongoing efforts to adapt to climate change impacts in the Northeast, followed by links to a number of adaptation plans, reports, and studies specific to the region. Both the examples and links are intended to be illustrative, not comprehensive.
Philadelphia prevents heat related deaths
In 1991, Philadelphia created a Heat Task Force to develop a plan to prevent heat-related deaths. In 1995, the Heat Task Force launched the Philadelphia Hot Weather Health Watch and Warning System (PDF), which uses many techniques to protect residents from extreme heat. Some techniques that have been employed include using the media to warn and educate the public about pending extreme heat events, offering an emergency hotline, providing daytime shelter hours and increasing outreach to homeless people.  The Philadelphia program demonstrates how coordinating simple steps can minimize the impact of extreme heat events. According to several studies (see here and here ), Philadelphia experienced fewer heat-attributable excess deaths after beginning its program.
For more information on the health impacts of heat waves, please visit the Health Impacts section of the Health Impacts & Adaptation page. For more information on adaptation measures for heat waves, please visit the Health Adaptation section of the Health Impacts & Adaptation page.
City of Keene releases a Climate Resilience Action Plan
Keene, a small city in Southwest New Hampshire, was the first municipality to pilot ICLEI's Climate Resilient Communities (PDF) program.  After flooding in 2005 caused millions of dollars of damage, the City of Keene decided to expand climate protection efforts to include adaptation.  Keene convened a climate adaptation committee and included an adaptation approach in its Climate Resilient Action Plan (PDF) . The plan has several initiatives, including: identify the 200-year floodplain and prevent future development in these areas to reduce flood risk; assess the need for new culvert capacity, identify existing and future potential animal migration routes to protect wildlife; and establish retraining, scholarship, and loan programs for residents whose businesses are impacted by climate change (such as snowplowing and maple sugar farming). 
For more information about adaptation measures for flooding, visit the Water Resources Impacts & Adaptation page; for wildlife habitat, visit the Ecosystems Impacts & Adaptation page; and for the economy, visit the Society Impacts & Adaptation page.
New York City prepares for climate change
New York City developed PlaNYC , a comprehensive plan to help the city respond to the complex demands of a growing population, aging infrastructure, changing climate, and evolving economy.  In 2008, the mayor convened the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) to advise the city on the best available science on climate change. Based on the NPCC recommendations, among other activities, the city has:
- Planted trees as part of the one million tree initiative
- Adopted a Green Infrastructure Plan (PDF) to upgrade the wastewater and sewer systems to better cope with heavy storms.
- Coated more than one million square feet of roofs with reflective coating through NYC CoolRoofs , to reduce heat absorption in the city.
Massachusetts wastewater treatment plant plans for sea level rise
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority incorporated sea level rise into plans for building a wastewater treatment plant on Deer Island in Boston Harbor. The plant processes raw sewage and stormwater from on-shore communities. Since releasing the treated water is done through gravity outflow, the relative level of the treatment facility to the water level is essential. Despite the initial additional costs of building the facility 1.9 feet higher than initially planned, this will eliminate the need to construct a costly seawall and change the discharge processing. 
EPA works with water utilities and estuaries to protect the region
EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative provides resources for water utilities to develop plans to adapt to changes in the water supply. For example:
- Climate Ready Water Utilities and EPA's Climate Ready Estuaries program brought the North Hudson Sewerage Authority and New York/New Jersey National Estuary Program together to jointly assess their climate risks and begin developing adaptation plans.
- New York City Department of Environmental Protection assessed its wastewater treatment plant's risk to climate change impacts while piloting the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT) in fall 2010.
EPA's Climate Ready Estuaries program supports coastal resource managers in preparing for the impacts of climate change. EPA has partnered with several National Estuary Programs in the Northeast to assess climate change vulnerabilities, develop and implement adaptation strategies, engage and educate stakeholders, and share the lessons learned with other coastal managers. For example:
- With assistance from EPA, the Long Island Sound Study (LISS) developed a monitoring strategy to track changes in the estuary, provide early warning of climate change impacts, and guide adaption.
- The Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) in Portland, Maine worked with EPA to improve how CBEP engages its stakeholders, integrating community goals and concerns into adaptation strategies.
- The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary engaged experts throughout their tri-state region to assess the vulnerabilities and adaptation options for three key resources: tidal wetlands, drinking water, and bivalve shellfish.
- The Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) conducted the PREP Culvert Assessment Study (PDF) to determine which road culverts are susceptible to failure under conditions with increasing severe storms.
EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities and Climate Ready Estuaries initiatives are working to coordinate their efforts and support climate change risk assessment and adaptation planning. The impacts of climate change can extend beyond the traditional assets of a utility and current watershed management practices may not be sufficient to cope with potential effects on aquatic ecosystems, water supply reliability, water quality, and coastal flood risk.
 EPA (2006). Excessive Heat Events Guidebook (PDF). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA.
 The City of New York (2011). PlaNYC Update April 2011 — A Greener, Greater New York (PDF) . The City of New York.
 USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States . Karl, T. R., J. M. Melillo, and T. C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA.