A new week brings a new blog from the Climate Ready Boston report! This week we will be taking a deeper look into layer 4 which focuses on Boston’s infrastructure--historic and new.
Like its shorelines, Boston is also known for its infrastructure. From the T, which happens to be the first subway system in the United States, to Paul Revere’s House and even the new development we’re experiencing in Fort Point; Boston is an icon for blending new development with the old. As we continue to experience the effects of climate change, the Climate Ready Boston report outlines ways in which the City can strengthen Boston’s infrastructure. We are excited to walk you through these recommendations, and as always you can stay up-to-date with all things climate by signing up for our newsletter. Next week marks our final blog in this series, but we hope you’ll join us for a webinar (date to be determined), where our Climate Ready Boston team will review the recommendations from each blog in more detail. Let’s get started!
Layer 4: Resilient Infrastructure
STRATEGY 6: COORDINATE INVESTMENTS TO ADAPT INFRASTRUCTURE TO FUTURE CLIMATE CONDITIONS
1. Establish an infrastructure coordination committee (ICC)
The infrastructure committee would be made up of key private and public infrastructure owners that include representatives from transportation, water and sewer, energy, telecommunications, and environmental assets. The ICC would be tasked with working with the City to set design standards and track investments in climate resilient projects. The duties of the committee should consider updated climate projections when creating new planning and design standards while continuing to update the City with regular reports on developing adaptation plans.
2. Continue to collect important asset and hazard data for planning purposes
The Climate Ready Boston team should transfer non-confidential data on public and private infrastructure in order to create a central place to store key data and allow public access.
3. Provide guidance on priority evacuation and service road infrastructure to the ICC
The ICC and agencies within the City should work with utilities to identify roads to prioritize for adaptation planning. The roads should prioritize evacuation routes and roads needed to restore or maintain essential services.
STRATEGY 7: DEVELOP DISTRICT-SCALE ENERGY SOLUTIONS TO INCREASE DECENTRALIZATION AND REDUNDANCY
1. Conduct feasibility studies for community energy solutions
The ICC and City agencies should coordinate to develop action plans to pursue community energy solutions using the Boston Community Energy Study (2016).
STRATEGY 8: EXPAND THE USE OF GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE AND OTHER NATURAL SYSTEMS TO MANAGE STORMWATER, MITIGATE HEAT, AND PROVIDE ADDITIONAL BENEFITS
With climate change, Boston faces more intense precipitation, a rise in sea levels, and extreme temperatures. Under these conditions, large-scale expansion of green infrastructure in Boston has the potential to increase the City’s resilience by slowing the pace of stormwater runoff, supporting on site infiltration, and reducing pollutants entering waterways.
1. Develop a green infrastructure location plan for public land and right-of-way
The City, in collaboration with Boston Water and Sewer Commission, should create a green infrastructure plan to help identify high-priority sites for green infrastructure development.
2. Develop a sustainable operating model for green infrastructure on public land and right-of-way
Green infrastructure requires different maintenance procedures than gray infrastructure assets. In order to properly maintain green infrastructure, the City should develop an operating model that is tied to efforts to support workforce development and inclusive hiring (recommended in layer 2).
3. Evaluate incentives and other tools to support green infrastructure
The City and Boston Water and Sewer Commission should evaluate a set of incentives and other tools to reduce impervious surfaces, increase on-site stormwater retention and management, and create green infrastructure on public and private property.
4. Develop design guidelines for green infrastructure on private property to support co-benefits
With the goal of creating effective green infrastructure, the City should request that Boston Sewer and Water Commission develop guidelines and set maintenance protocols for green infrastructure.
5. Develop an action plan to expand Boston’s urban tree canopy
Using the most up-to-date canopy inventory, the Parks and Recreation Department should set criteria to prioritize where the City plants street trees. The expanded canopy will be part of the expanded green infrastructure plan. Trees play an important role in managing stormwater, mitigating heat, and reducing air pollution.
6. Prepare outdoor facilities for climate change
The Parks and Recreation Department should identify facilities where resilience improvements are needed to address near-term flooding impacts, and evaluate whether the improvements are feasible to incorporate into existing planned capital upgrades or will require a new work stream.
7. Conduct a comprehensive wetlands inventory and develop a wetlands protection action plan
The wetlands inventory, conducted by the Conservation Commission, should consist of mapping all existing wetlands, analyzing the functions (ecosystem services) performed by them, and identifying sites that are of high resource value and are at high risk due to development or climate impacts.
Boston’s transit systems, utilities, and parks are all part of our infrastructure, and managing these assets requires collaboration across City agencies, private entities, and the public. The Climate Ready Boston report lays out recommendations on how to strengthen infrastructure while preparing it for the effects of climate change. Read more about layer 4 and the other resilience initiatives here.
Next week will be our fifth and final installment of the Climate Ready Boston recommendations. If you’re hungry for more we will be announcing a date for an upcoming webinar to again, review these recommendations. Stay connected with Greenovate by signing up for our newsletter.