Climate Adaptation Management and Planning

Join us in our efforts to support Climate Adaptation Management and Planning:


General Statement

The December 2016 Climate Ready Boston Final Report found that even with moderate emission reductions there is a significant chance that sea levels rise at least 3 feet by the end of the century (and if we kept our emissions at exactly today's levels there would still be a 15% chance that sea levels rise at least 7.4 feet). The first of these estimates would expose thousands of buildings to consistent flooding and lead to billions in annualized losses by the 2070s. Clearly, effective and immediate climate adaptation policies must be implemented to prevent such devastation to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth. That is why we at USGBC MA focus on advocating for and promoting legislation to help mitigate and adapt to the expected environmental problems to come.

Check out our blog on Boston's proposed sea wall for a closer look at climate adaptation and Yale's Climate Opinion Maps to see what American's are thinking about climate change and its impacts.


As defined by the US EPA, climate adaptation "refers to the adjustments that societies or ecosystems make to limit the negative effects of climate change or to take advantage of opportunities provided by a changing climate." These impacts and consequences of climate change are quite real and are currently being experienced throughout the world. This image from the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report depicts how much of downtown Boston, MA will be underwater by 2100 if we continue to pollute as we do now. Major strategies that stakeholders in the planning, architecture and building engineering communities can take to adapt to climate impacts include designing buildings and structures to use energy and water more wisely, minimize damage from flooding events, and support community-wide resilience strategies. 

Climate mitigation, or acting to limit the impacts of climate change (such as through reduced emissions), must continue as we adapt to the changes we face today. Effective integration of adaptation and mitigation strategies are critical to the success of Massachusett's state's policies. 

Primary Legislation

Bill S. 472: An Act providing for the establishment of a comprehensive adaptation management plan in response to climate change - (Sponsored by Marc R. Pacheco and 21 others) This legislation will require the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs to create and continually update a state adaptation and mitigation plan. The plan will seek to ensure "effective prioritization for the resiliency, preservation, protection, restoration and enhancement of the commonwealth’s built and natural infrastructure." To guide the development and execution of the plan, the Act will create a 21-person advisory commission made up of representatives from government agencies and non-profit organizations, experts from affected sectors (including the commercial and residential building industry) and those with experience in local government, economic development, and the sciences. Furthermore, the Act creates a grant program for regional planning agencies to refine and facilitate adaptation actions in their communities and also creates a fund to purchase and repurpose vulnerable coastal properties. 

Related Legislation

Bill S. 1828: An Act requiring the timely adoption of greenhouse gas emission limits for the year 2030 - (Sponsored by William N. Brownsbergerand 5 others) This bill will create a 2020 GHG emissions limit of 10-25% below the 1990 emissions levels and a 2030 emissions limit of 30-60% below 1990 levels and establish an action plan for achieving these reductions. Reduction plans will be implemented in a cost effective manner and include consultations with state and regional authorities.

Bill S. 479: An Act relative to 2030 and 2040 emissions benchmarks - (Sponsored by Marc R. Pacheco and 16 others) This bill will create 2030 and 2040 GHG emission benchmarks based on detailed modeling analysis of the grid to be completed by December, 2020. Interim emissions limits would be established in 2030 at 35-45% below 1990 levels and raised in 2040 to 55-65% below 1990 levels. This will set the Commonwealth on a stable course towards 80% reductions by 2050 as per the 2008 The Global Warming Solutions Act. 

Bill S. 1875: An Act relative to local energy investment and infrastructure modernization - (Sponsored by Marc R. Pacheco and 14 others) This bill will update and modernize the grid, prioritizing local energy resources, and beginning in January, 2018 each distribution company will provide a time of use rate plan that reflects the cost of providing electricity at different times throughout the day.

Resolve S. 453: Resolve to review, consider, and evaluate, and to establish a suitable body and/or Special Commission to consider Climate Change Economic Consequences (Sponsored by Vincent Lawrence Dixon) This resolution will create a Climate Change Economic Consequences Commission made up of 21 people: 15 appointees made by the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House and the last six from individuals applying from the commonwealth. This commission will collect data and hold regular hearings to discuss the probable climate change scenarios and their environmental and economic costs and impacts. The commission will then report on the appropriate insurance and financial needs to combat climate change and prescribe policy measures to adapt.


Updates and Blogs

  • Stay tuned for events on our calendar!
  • Check out our climate adaptation and management blog!

Recommendation by USGBC MA

The USGBC Massachusetts Chapter believes that the state government should take a holistic and considered approach to planning for and helping communities adapt to climate change impacts. S. 472 provides the necessary framework for the Commonwealth to chart a course for Massachusetts communities and stakeholders to better understand their climate vulnerabilities and what measures they can implement to avoid the worst impacts while enhancing their economic and environmental resilience. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the building, environmental, and allied communities to advance this bill to signature.

We are currently developing draft letters to be sent to legislators in support of climate adaptation legislation. Please take a moment to look at the below document and send any comments or suggestions to [email protected]

Climate Adaptation Draft Letter to Legislator

To get involved in advocacy efforts, please contact our Climate Adaptation and Management Issue Captain: Sam Milton or our Advocacy Fellow.


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