Climate ChangeGreenovate


By October 24, 2019 No Comments

This week marks our last blog in the Climate Ready Boston layers series. But just because it is our last blog doesn’t mean our work with the report is over. We are excited to host a webinar in the coming weeks to walk through each of the recommendations found in the report and highlighted in our blogs.

Layer 5: Adapted Buildings

This layer builds on the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s Resiliency Policy, which requires all large project proposals to analyze and describe their climate preparedness using a checklist. The Climate Ready Boston report recommends incorporating climate readiness across its building regulations. To read more about current regulations download the Recommended Resilience Strategies.


  1. Establish a planning flood evaluation for zoning regulations in the future floodplain

The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) should petition the Boston Zoning Commission to revise the zoning code to include updated flood projections.

  1. Revise the zoning code to support climate-ready buildings

The BPDA should petition the Boston Zoning Commission to revise code to ensure regulation on the use, height, and bulk of buildings to promote climate ready retrofitting and new construction. The report lays out specific ways in which the Zoning Code should be updated to support climate ready development–read more about these recommendations on page 137 (page 32 in the PDF).

  1. Promote climate readiness for projects in the development pipeline

Once changes are made to the Zoning Code, the BPDA should immediately notify all developers with projects that lie in the updated floodplain and currently have projects in the pipeline.

  1. Pursue state building code amendments to promote climate readiness

The City should ask the Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards to implement stricter requirements for new or substantially improved building in Boston. The key new requirement would be to increase the minimum elevation for mechanical systems.

  1. Incorporate future climate conditions into area plans

The Boston Planning and Development Agency should incorporate future climate considerations such as extreme heat, stormwater flooding, and coastal and riverine flooding into major neighborhood planning efforts across the city.


Boston’s existing buildings are diverse. They have a broad range of owners with varying levels of expertise and access to finance to undertake resilience improvements. Boston is also home to many historic buildings, which face unique challenges in maintaining their historic character while retrofitting to prepare for a changing climate.

  1. Establish a resilience audit program for private property owners

The audit program, established by the city, would help property owners identify potential building- and site-level resilience actions to address coastal and riverine flooding, stormwater flooding, and extreme heat.

  1. Prepare municipal facilities for climate change

City departments should prioritize adaptation projects to prepare at-risk municipal facilities for coastal and riverine flooding, stormwater flooding, and extreme heat risks. The City should prioritize building retrofits using the Climate Ready Boston Vulnerability Assessment.

  1. Expand backup power at private buildings that serve vulnerable populations

The City should support solar photovoltaic generation and storage in private buildings that serve vulnerable populations. Targeted populations should include affordable housing complexes, substance abuse treatment centers, daycare facilities, food pantries, and small nonprofit offices, among others.

  1. Develop toolkit of building retrofit financing strategies

A toolkit of financing strategies should be developed by the City. The toolkit could be used to fund retrofits for both municipal and non-municipal buildings. The toolkit would include financing strategies that can tap public, private, and nonprofit capital to make building retrofits accessible to Bostonians with a range of incomes.


Affordable access to appropriate levels of flood insurance coverage is critical to protecting property owners’ investments and neighborhoods’ stability.

  1. Evaluate the current flood insurance landscape

The City should conduct a study of the current flood insurance landscape in Boston for owner-occupant and multifamily residential buildings to identify affordability challenges created by recent legal changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

  1. Join the national flood insurance program community rating system

In partnership with FEMA Region I staff and the Massachusetts Insurance Services Office, the City should begin the process of participation in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System. The Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that go above and beyond minimum requirements set by the National Flood Insurance Program.

  1. Advocate for Reform in the National Flood Insurance Program

In collaboration with other cities in the East Coast, the City of Boston should support 2017 reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program that would promote insurance affordability for Bostonians.

Boston is home to a diverse collection of buildings, many of which are iconic. In this layer, the Climate Ready Boston report outlines recommendations to ensure that our buildings large, small, new, and historic are properly prepared for the effects of climate change. To read more about the steps the City is recommending, download the proposed solutions.

In the coming weeks Greenovate Boston will host a webinar (date to be determined) outlining these recommendations and updating the public on the progress we’ve made thus far. Stay connected and get updates on a