Climate ChangeGreenovate


By October 19, 2019 No Comments

Boston is known for its extensive shoreline that offers views, recreational opportunities, and economic benefits to the city. Layer 3 of the Climate Ready Boston (CRB) report focuses on how we can protect our shorelines.

This is our third week diving into the Climate Ready Boston report’s recommendation layers. We’ve discussed ways in which the City plans to continue to update climate projections and better connect communities. At the end of our blog series Greenovate will be hosting a webinar to highlight these recommendations–stay tuned for a date!This week we are focusing on Boston’s shorelines and how we can better protect one of Boston’s greatest assets.

Layer 3: Protected Shorelines


  1. Develop local climate resilience plans to support district-scale climate adaptation

The city recommends developing local climate resiliency plans specific to neighborhoods, especially those that are at a higher risk of being impacted by coastal flooding due to sea level rise and storm surges.  Districts identified in the report include East Boston, Downtown, Charlestown, South Boston, and Dorchester.

The local climate resilience plans should coordinate all climate adaptation efforts within a the district. These plans should include: community engagement, land use planning for future flood protection systems, flood protection feasibility studies, infrastructure adaptation planning, coordination with other plans (such as Imagine Boston 2030), development of financing strategies, and governance structures.

  1. Establish local climate resilience committees to serve as long-term community partners for climate adaptation

The report recommends that the City should work with local residents, businesses, and institutions in each resilience planning district to form a local climate resilience committee. The committee would be tasked with guiding the district-scale climate adaptation activities, including identifying local challenges and developing creative solutions.

Local climate resilience committees can take a variety of forms and may have multiple missions depending on the needs of each district. The committee would serve as a liaison with the broader community to disseminate information, as well as gather feedback on ongoing projects in the neighborhood related to climate resilience.


Boston faces significant and increasing coastal flood risk due to a combination of sea level rise, high tides, and coastal storm events. In order to address these risks, the CRB report recommends creating a robust system of coastal protection infrastructure that responds to community needs and ecological dynamics.

There are three categories of infrastructure that can be incorporated into the coastal protection system: “gray,” or hard-engineered infrastructure, such as levees, floodwalls, or gates; “green,” or nature-based, coastal infrastructure, such as wetlands or living shorelines; hybrid coastal infrastructure which incorporates both “gray” and “green” components such as reinforced dunes or living shorelines that contain engineered levees. Using a combination of gray, green, and hybrid infrastructure, the report recommends implementing coastal protection within districts across the city and harbor-wide.

  1. Establish flood protection overlay districts and require potential integration with flood protection

New Flood Protection Overlay Districts should be created to include areas that are strategically important for potential future flood protection infrastructure. The purpose of these Overlay Districts is to bring attention to the current development occurring in these areas today, and to provide a regulatory mechanism to address potential future flooding.

For instance, within a Flood Protection Overlay District, a developer would be required to submit a study of how the proposed project could be integrated into a future flood protection system.

  1. Determine a consistent evaluation framework for flood protection prioritization

The City should establish a framework to evaluate alternative district-scale and harbor-wide flood

protection systems. The framework would be guided by local priorities, as well as take into consideration social equity and the needs of socially vulnerable populations. The key considerations taken into account in the framework include: flood risk reduction benefits; additional benefits, such as quality of life impacts; environmental impacts; cost; land ownership; permitting and regulations; and intergovernmental coordination. To read more about these considerations see pages 104-109 of the Climate Ready Boston report.

  1. Prioritize and study the feasibility of district-scale flood protection

The City should study the feasibility of district-scale flood protection in a number of locations, and prioritize them based on cost and benefits to populations, businesses, property, and infrastructure. These flood protections could vary in design and location including in-water, water’s edge, and upland.

  1. Launch a harbor-wide flood protection system feasibility study

The City, along with regional partners, would conduct a harbor-wide study that would examine the feasibility and desirability of a harbor-wide flood protection system. As part of the study, the City would need to consider a number of location and design options including: alignment options, size of gaps and gates, and project phasing.

There are challenges and opportunities to protecting our coastline. Layer 3 of the Climate Ready report recommends increasing district-level leadership and planning, while also implementing harbor and district-wide flood protection projects, focusing on infrastructure and community engagement. To continue to be an engaged citizen make sure to sign up for our newsletter, and check back next week for our fourth installment of our blog series. At the end of our blog series we will be hosting a webinar to highlight these proposed recommendations!