This is the quarterly newsletter from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, highlighting its progress, and the counties and municipalities in Southeast Florida.

New Resilience Project Roadmap showcases resilience projects across Compact region

Screenshot of the Resilience Roadmap GIS platform

Screenshot of the Resilience Roadmap GIS platform

The Compact’s collaborative work group with the economic development entities in the four-county region recently jointly developed and released the Resilient Project Roadmap to showcase visible examples of adaptation and mitigation projects taking shape across the Southeast Florida landscape. While certainly not comprehensive of every resilience project underway, the GIS database highlights more than 80 projects, including project location, project details and costs, where available. Explore the Resilience Roadmap.

Southeast Florida communities selected for more than $150 million in FEMA support to advance risk reduction measures

Mount Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach selected for a Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant to advance non-structural retrofitting of critical equipment (credit: photo courtesy of Mount Sinai)

On Aug. 28, 2023, FEMA announced the final selections of subapplications for the more than $3 billion that was made available for the FY2022 annual grant funding cycle of the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) and Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant programs. In FY2022, Southeast Florida communities in the four-county Compact region were selected for more than $150 million dollars in FMA, BRIC, and Pre-Disaster Mitigation grants, though many of these projects are conditionally awarded while pending Environmental and Historic Preservation review by FEMA. 

Taken together, FEMA’s suite of grant programs available to local governments and tribes (as well as the state) are significant opportunities to advance risk reduction and pre-disaster resilience investments. As our communities face increasing climate risk, it is critical that we bend down the risk curve and pursue evidence-based risk mitigation strategies ruthlessly. For example, we know that every dollar invested in building codes can save up to $11 in recovery costs after a disaster. 

The Flood Mitigation Assistance grant program is a competitive program that provides funding to states, local communities and federally recognized tribes and territories. Funds can be used for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program.

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Across the Region

Show me the money: West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County secure more than $13 million in transportation infrastructure funding

The region has once again successfully secured significant funding for infrastructure improvements that simultaneously advance adaptation and mitigation goals, with the City of West Palm Beach and Miami-Dade County capturing $8.1 million and $5 million respectively via the Department of Transportation’s RAISE Discretionary Grant Program (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity). RAISE grants, expanded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, allow project sponsors at the State and local levels to obtain funding for multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional projects that will improve safety, sustainability, mobility and community connectivity, and economic competitiveness. 

West Palm will use funds to construct traffic calming measures, bicycle boulevards, sidewalks and crosswalks enhancements, access management, street lighting, transit stops, pedestrian bridges, traffic signals, signage and striping, as well as stormwater drainage. Taken together, these improvements will deliver a range of co-benefits, including improving stormwater management, mitigating flooding, and adding more shade trees to reduce heat island effects, while also increasing access to transit and active transportation modes to reduce vehicle dependence. West Palm will utilize innovative low-carbon materials in the construction and will incorporate carbon-trapping materials in the concrete. Finally, the project is anticipated to increase affordable transportation choices, as well as provide better connectivity to jobs, recreation, retail, and other daily services. 

Miami-Dade will invest in port operations, completing portions of a Cargo Supply Master Plan that includes the planning and design studies for carbon neutralization of on-port operations, development of two inland cargo centers to handle 50% more cargo volume, and the deployment of innovative technologies, including radio-frequency identification and the electrification of supply chain movements, which will reduce the use of fossil fuel.

Broward County delivers additional solar and EV, tracking toward 2050 net zero commitment

Project rendering for Delevoe Park Solar Canopy

Broward County’s recent developments in the solar and electric vehicle (EV) space are positioning the County to meet its 2050 net-zero targets. 

The County’s current solar capacity is 3.13 MW, with an additional 3.83 MW of new project capacity pending installation, achieving an average 30% solar energy offset to on-site energy consumption. This equates to a current average annual savings of 3,267 tons of CO2 emissions. The county will further expand its solar capacity through the construction of a solar canopy over the basketball courts at Reverend Samuel Delevoe Memorial Park (pictured above), set to begin construction in Q3 of 2023. 

Broward was also an early adopter of the FPL SolarTogether program, which allows FPL customers to subscribe to the electricity generated by utility-scale PV projects, through which the county is achieving a total of 132 MW of solar energy capacity and the associated Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to account for its remaining electrical usage. 

On the EV side, Broward County has made a clean-fleet commitment to only purchase electric and low-carbon vehicles by 2030 and already has over 70 EVs in service, with many more on order. In order to supply all of these vehicles and help the broader Broward community do the same, both an Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy RFP and a Net-Zero Plan RFP are in procurement. The County currently has 70 EV Charging ports installed throughout its facilities, and plans are in place for a total of 867 charging ports to be installed through the year 2026. An Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Qualified Vendor List (QVL) has been created to streamline the procurement process, with 80 dual-port chargers recently purchased from the QVL for immediate installation.

Policy, outreach and improved communications underpin multi-pronged heat strategy in Miami-Dade County

Farmworkers and construction workers protesting in Downtown Miami

Farmworkers and construction workers marching in Downtown Miami to demand water, shade, and rest for outdoor workers in South Florida on May 1. (credit: MC Image Productions/WeCount!)

Globally, temperatures this summer have been the hottest on record, surpassing previous records by a large margin, according to data from the European Union Climate Change Service. While communities in southeast Florida are no strangers to warm summers, the temperatures experienced in July and August were also unprecedented for our region. The Miami heat index in July topped 100°F for 46 consecutive days and 106°F for 13 straight days. Before this heat wave, Miami had only seen the heat index reach 109°F a total of 11 times before. During the July extreme heat event, a 109°F index was reached for seven days in less than a month, according to Dr. Brian McNoldy, a University of Miami scientist.  

Through a myriad of community partnerships, Miami-Dade County continues to set a national example for extreme heat response. This newsletter has previously covered the appointment of the nation’s first Chief Heat Officer, Jane Gilbert, and the release of Miami-Dade County’s Extreme Heat Action Plan, developed through the support of a 15-member Climate and Heat Health Task Force co-chaired by Gilbert and Dr. Cheryl Holder, physician, professor and community advocate. Extreme heat trainings are being conducted across the county, and a multilingual Heat Season campaign is being deployed to reach thousands of residents to help people learn how to stay safe in the heat. 

Extreme Heat PSA Video
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Miami-Dade’s Back Bay Study moves forward with shared support for exploration of alternative coastal protection measures

Proposed estimated schedule for USACE Back Bay CSRM Study

Proposed estimated schedule for USACE "Back Bay" CSRM Study

August 18th marked a critical juncture in a multi-year planning process already underway between the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) and Miami-Dade County, when the two entities reached an agreement to move forward with work on Part II of the expanded Miami-Dade County Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study (Back Bay Study). On the table for Miami-Dade County is the potential to unlock several billions of dollars of federal investment (with USACE funding 65% and Miami-Dade County responsible for the remaining 35%) to significantly increase coastal protection and mitigate risk from the impacts of storm surge.

This agreement follows the Corp’s approval for a one-year pause to develop alternative concepts for further feasibility study granted in August 2022. The unique process allowed the County to consider other locations for potential storm surge barrier gates and integrate additional nature-based solutions or green infrastructure where possible into the plan and incorporate more community and stakeholder feedback. Army Corps and the county held a joint meeting on October 12, 2022, to discuss the Back Bay Study re-initiation, followed by weeklong charettes that took place in November 2022 and March 2023, and extensive stakeholder and public input.

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Monroe County secures $44 million from State’s Resilient Florida Program for three road elevation projects

Monroe County continues to make significant headway on their multi-year planning and implementation efforts of roadway elevation. As has been previously reported in this newsletter, Monroe County developed a Regional Roads Adaptation and Capital Plan study, which provides information on 50% of the county’s 300+ miles of roadways that need to be elevated or have drainage added in order to adapt to projected sea level rise (SLR), at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion ($9.6 million per mile). Three roadway elevation projects have been selected by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection as part of its Resilient Florida Statewide Flooding and Sea Level Rise Resilience Plan, bringing more than $40 million in state implementation funds to this critical initiative. The selected projects include the Key Largo Winston Waterways Largo Gardens (Upper Keys) Road Elevation Resilience and Adaptation Project and the Big Coppitt (Lower Keys) Road Elevation Resilience and Adaptation Project. Additionally, the Conch Key (Middle Keys) Road Elevation Adaptation Project #2 was funded earlier this year with previously appropriated funding.

Palm Beach County advances holistic municipal and community outreach

Discussion among workshop participants in Palm Beach County

Discussion among workshop participants in Palm Beach County

Over the summer, the team at Palm Beach County’s Office of Resilience invested time and energy into community and municipal outreach that will pay dividends for holistic and community-centered adaptation and resilience planning and implementation into the future. 

In late June, the Office of Resilience partnered with the American Flood Coalition to host a municipal workshop for 22 municipalities in the county focused on flood resilience. Florida's Chief Resilience Officer, Wes Brooks, and Krista Shipley from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection spoke about the Resilient Florida Program and grant opportunities to fund flood vulnerability assessments and adaptation implementation projects. Local environmental attorney and planner Erin Deady spoke about shoreline protection issues and policy options to unite local efforts. 

In July, the team began its community outreach efforts as part of the Countywide Climate Risk Assessment, hosting events in Belle Glade/South Bay, Pahokee, and unincorporated Palm Beach County. These community events focused on sharing information with residents regarding the goals and outcomes of the project, and soliciting community feedback on community assets and impacts that will be incorporated into the project planning. These events aligned with and advanced many of the recommendations contained within the Informed and Engaged Communities and Equity Chapters of the Regional Climate Action Plan 3.0. 

New Staff

Robert Colón

Robert Colón

Resilience Coordinator 2, Miami-Dade County Office of Resilience

Robert Colón joins the Office of Resilience’s Adaptation Team, where he will help advance the goals of the County's Sea Level Rise Strategy. He brings his interdisciplinary experience in research, public health, civic engagement, planning, and landscape architecture with the goal of organizing the community toward equitable resilience. In addition to the technical aspects of resilience, Robert is passionate about the cultural points of view that define our relationship with the land. He is a founding member of the Tierra Media Project, a creative collective exploring Latin American perspectives of the Earth, and the creator of Habitat Express, where he designs accessible, small-scale urban wildlife habitats. Robert graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and from Florida International University with a Master’s in Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design.

Maria (Mari) Del Mar Trejos

Maria Del Mar Trejos

Resilience Metrics Analysis, Miami-Dade County Office of Resilience

Maria (Mari) Del Mar Trejos has joined the Office of Resilience Mitigation team to spearhead the County’s greenhouse gas inventory, energy data analysis, energy conservation measures, and other resilience data analysis and mitigation tasks. Prior to joining Miami-Dade County, Mari worked for Brizaga, an interdisciplinary coastal engineering consulting firm focused on climate resilience, coordinating outreach programs and developing public-facing science communications and data-collection projects. Before joining Brizaga, Mari worked as the senior program coordinator on a series of citizen science and environmental education programs at the Sea Level Solutions Center at Florida International University (FIU). She majored in both Sustainability and the Environment and Natural & Applied Sciences at FIU. 


Register Today - 15th Annual Climate Leadership Summit

Summit Flyer announcing Keynote Speaker Victoria Salinas

Registration is now open for the 15th Annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit, hosted at the Miami Beach Convention Center on November 16 and 17, 2023! Join us as we explore Transformative Climate Action to secure our collective regional prosperity, livability, and security. View event information – including the draft agenda, confirmed speakers, sponsorship information and logistics.

Past Events

Over the summer, the Compact hosted two virtual workshops to support the implementation of the recommendations in the Regional Climate Action Plan. All workshop materials, including the workshop recording, agenda, speaker bios, and presentations can be downloaded at the links provided below.

On June 28th, the Compact hosted a workshop in partnership with the Florida Housing Coalition focused on climate-resilient affordable housing. The event explored the intersection of the dual crises of climate change and affordable housing, and provided insights toward integrated, holistic strategies that address both challenges simultaneously and in ways that meet the needs of the most at-risk households.

On August 8th, the environmental consulting firm Hazen and Sawyer (contracted by the Compact) presented a workshop to provide best practices for engagement through the vulnerability assessment process. The workshop outlined the state requirements and resources available to local governments, shared relevant regional and county-level data sets, and presented methodology related to the incorporation of rainfall flood inundation.

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