This is a guest post written by Chris Marchi, Director of Community Building and Environment at Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), East Boston.

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Dealing with extreme summer heat on a carbon budget is going to be a big job. A survey of 174 East Boston residents reported that most people here deal with the heat by switching on an air conditioner when daytime temperatures hit around 80°. This survey also found that a 32% of urban East Boston residents ‘turn on’ when outdoor temperatures are in the low 70’s and that 88% of the neighborhood owns an air conditioner or two. Now consider this: we get 15 days per year on average over 90°, but climate change experts say we'll have between 30 and 60 days over 90° per year by the end of the century. So the heat problem is going to keep growing. 

Ok, so let me introduce you to what we're up to in East Boston. East Boston is a bunch of islands connected by flood prone, filled-in land.  East Boston’s Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) is working (with funding from the Kresge Foundation), on a climate planning initiative to help people prepare for flooding and other climate change impacts including extreme weather.  

East Boston’s history is all about progress, so we’re focusing our resiliency plans on making progress by promoting high quality, low carbon lifestyle choices, as improvements. Our staff and partners at the Boston Architectural College have researched low carbon climate impact reduction technologies and behaviors and held focus group style meetings to ask residents if they'd consider trying new approaches to comfort. We got a lot of interest, so we’re following up with a list of climate comforts which we hope will help people get started.

Since things have been warming up lately, I’m posting some of our draft lists. Would you try any of them at home? Have you tried them? Do they work? If we’re going to make progress and continue to lead the way in urban resiliency, we in Boston are going to need to identify and popularize a new approach to high quality, low impact urban living.

 

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