Happy Holidays from CIRCA!
We made a resilient gingerbread house
CIRCA in the News
Local and State News Clips
CIRCA in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection hosted the workshop
Connecticut Living Shorelines: Projects into Practice on November 20, 2017.
This NOAA funded workshop provided an update about the state of living shorelines in Connecticut, highlighted existing projects and research, and overviewed related permitting processes. Design concepts for both a larger, municipal site and a smaller, residential/land trust site were explained and used in a mock permit review exercise during small breakout groups with guidance from DEEP environmental analysts. This workshop targeted consultants, project designers, landscape architects, restoration ecologists and engineers in Connecticut. Links to all presentations and resources from the workshop can be found here:
CIRCA Sea Level Rise Projections for Connecticut
CIRCA has released local projections of sea level rise for Connecticut's coast using local tide gauge data and the current best available science. Based on the projections, CIRCA recommends that Connecticut municipalities plan for 20 inches (50cm) of sea level rise by 2050 and that sea levels are likely to continue to rise after that date. A public meeting was held on October 19 to present the science behind the projections.
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December 14, 2017 - Workshop AIA Connecticut: Resilient Connecticut: Helping Connecticut Communities to Prepare for Weather and Climate Changes
December 14, 2017,
8:45 am -
370 James Street, Suite 402, N
ew Haven, CT,
Learn more & Register
In this all-day program, you will learn the latest best design practices, details and code requirements to address Connecticut climate challenges and opportunities, zoning and building to prepare for a resilient and prospering future.
The program will cover:
- The most recent expert guidance, building code and zoning regulations for mitigation and adaptation to future probable climate and weather conditions.
- Funding sources available to Connecticut communities, businesses and residents to build better and build well.
- Lessons learned and peer networking for architects to help advance Connecticut's initiatives for resilient and sustainable communities.
CIRCA will be presenting: Legal Issues of Forward-Looking Climate Science with William R. Rath, Esq. and Joe MacDougald, P.E. of UConn School of Law. CIRCA Project Coordinator Katie Lund will sit on the funding panel.
December 14, 2017 - EPA Soak Up the Rain New England Webinar Series, New Haven, CT
Soak Up the Rain New England Webinar Series:
Engaging Urban Residents: Innovative Approaches to Promoting Community-Based Stormwater Management
Thursday, December 14th, 1:00 PM-2:00 PM EST
The webinar will discuss and showcase the innovative, city-wide green infrastructure projects that have addressed flooding and stormwater issues in urban neighborhoods in New Haven, Connecticut. Key partners have included the Yale School of Forestry, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, and EMERGE Connecticut, Inc. (a transitional work training program). To date, more than 30 bioretention systems have been installed strategically throughout the city with plans to install many more in the next two years in the downtown central business district. This innovative approach has produced measurable results and effectively leveraged federal, state and municipal funding.
Webinar speakers include: Giovanni Zinn, P.E., City Engineer and Dawn Henning, P.E., Project Manager, New Haven Engineering Department, New Haven, Connecticut.
For questions about the webinar series or if you have ideas for additional webinar topics, please email to
December 15, 2017 -
CT DEEP Exploring Climate Solutions Webinar Series: Sustainable CT
Exploring Climate Solutions
webinar series explores innovative and successful climate change solutions across Connecticut and the nation. The series provides you with first-hand accounts of high-profile municipal climate programs, climate initiatives in the corporate world, greenhouse gas reporting frameworks, statewide sustainability programs, materials management strategies, and low-carbon fuel initiatives.
In our upcoming December 15th lunchtime
, join us to explore
, a new statewide, sustainability certification program for Connecticut's cities and towns. Lynn Stoddard and Jessica LeClair of Eastern Connecticut State University's
Institute for Sustainable Energy
will present an overview of the program and describe the certification process.
Sustainable CT seeks to help municipalities across the state become more vibrant, healthy, resilient and thriving places for all of their residents. Sustainability actions, policies, and investments deliver multiple benefits and help towns make efficient use of scarce resources and engage a wide cross section of residents and businesses. There are many ways to particip
ate - join us to learn how you can be involved in Sustainable CT!
December 15, 2017 - UConn Sea Grant & CLEAR Workshop: Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation II
December 15, 2017, 8:30 am - 3:30 pm
Mercy by the Sea Retreat and Conference Center, 167 Neck Rd. Madison, CT
Building on the foundations from the Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation workshop held in November 2015 and the participants' questions it generated, 4 fact sheets that address many of these questions will be presented. The afternoon session delves into two major climate adaptation issues with numerous legal ramifications: elevating structures and resilience of roadways.
*Workshop is currently full*
January 8-11, 2018- FEMA's 4-day 273 Course: Managing Floodplain Development Through the National Flood Insurance Program, Essex Junction, VT
ASFPM is co-hosting the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) E273 Course in Essex Junction, VT with FEMA and Vermont Rivers Program. This course is designed to provide an organized training opportunity for local officials responsible for administering their local floodplain management ordinance. The course will focus on the NFIP and concepts of floodplain management, maps and studies, ordinance administration, and the relationship between floodplain management and flood insurance.
COST: Course attendance is FREE, but registration is required. All attendees are responsible for their own travel, lodging, and meal expenses.
Deadline to register is
December 18, 2017
Learn more & Register
CFM EXAM (optional):
A separate Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM®) Exam will be held on Friday, January 12th. Course attendance is NOT required to sit for the CFM Exam.
and fee required to sit for the CFM Exam. Exam applications must be submitted to ASFPM no later than January 3, 2018.
Contact Rebecca Pfeiffer:
2018 Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award, December 15
Now Accepting Applications for Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award
Travelers is now accepting applications for the 2018 Travelers Excellence in Community Resilience Award, a $100,000 award to recognize an organization that demonstrates leadership in addressing community resiliency. The deadline to apply is December 15, 2017.
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Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Solicitation Now Open Through Dec. 19, 2017
Open: Oct. 31, 2017
Dec. 19, 2017
EPA is calling for small businesses to apply for Phase I awards up to $100,000 to demonstrate proof of concept in the following topic areas: air quality, manufacturing, clean and safe water, land revitalization, homeland security, and building construction materials. See the full solicitation posted on FedConnect to learn more about these topic areas, view specific subtopics for each area, and access instructions on how to apply.
EPA is one of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation from idea conception to commercialization. EPA's SBIR funding boosts local economies by creating jobs and promoting collaborations among communities and small businesses. This funding also supports technologies aimed at creating cleaner manufacturing materials and better infrastructure in communities. Successful Phase I companies are eligible to apply for Phase II funding, which awards up to $300,000 for two years with a commercialization option of up to $100,000, to further develop and commercialize their technologies.
All applications must be submitted through
CIRCA in the News
December 6, 2017- Greenwich Seeks To Have Substation Ruling Reversed
GREENWICH - The town is seeking reconsideration of a decision to allow Eversource Energy to build a controversial new substation in downtown Greenwich.
Local officials have filed a petition with the Connecticut Siting Council seeking to have it overturn its ruling last month to allow the substation. The filing cites new evidence that Greenwich officials say was not taken into account by council members.
"We are doing all that we can to protect the town's interests, as we have done throughout this process," First Selectman Peter Tesei said.
The approved location for the substation is 290 Railroad Avenue, the current location of Pet Pantry.
Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross said Tuesday an arrangement has been negotiated "with the owners of Pet Pantry regarding their exit, but the terms are confidential."
The business, which opened another, smaller Greenwich shop in Riverside, subleases the space from Eversource.
The town's petition was filed on Nov. 29 by attorney David Ball of the firm of Cohen and Wolf.
It cites new planning recommendations and sea rise projections put together by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation, which is a joint effort of the University of Connecticut and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The recommendations were released after the record in the Eversource application was closed by the Siting Council.
They state Connecticut is susceptible to greater sea level rise than other areas and note the 290 Railroad Ave. location is within a FEMA flood zone and within the coastal boundary.
"The CIRCA Report makes clear the real risk of flooding and potential impact on any substation built at 290 Railroad Avenue," the petition states. "That risk is far worse because the Siting Council ordered an open-air substation, which is more vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise than would be an indoor substation. It is essential that the substation be fully-enclosed."
The petition suggests an alternate plan in which the substation would be fully enclosed and located at 281 Railroad Ave.
Residents and town officials have argued the 290 Railroad Avenue location is too close to Airgas, on Field Point Road, which sells gas and welding supplies.
"Even before the publication of the new CIRCA findings, the record made clear that there is an unacceptable health and safety risk in locating an open-air substation at 290 Railroad Avenue, next door to a compressed gas facility," the petition argues. "Ignoring this fact, the decision merely states that '[t]here are no standards or safety codes that would prevent an open-air substation from being constructed at 290 Railroad Avenue, adjacent to the AIRGAS commercial property.' This finding is wrong."
Local & State News Clips
December 7, 2017 - Moody's Puts Price on Climate Change, Robert Thorson Editorial, Hartford Courant
When I began teaching at UConn in 1984, I started a file of state newspaper clippings for my geoscience courses. One of the first things I learned was that more than 6,000 acres of wetland on the Connecticut shore was converted to dry land prior to the 1970s by ditching, draining and dumping within tidal wetlands. This allowed land-hungry communities to spread out over what was then being called artificial fill.
At the time, I wondered naively why any government would permit such land use practices during a geological epoch of melting ice sheets and rising sea level. Today, any governing entity for coastal property knows that the pace of sea level rise has accelerated, and that an epoch of stronger subtropical storms is upon us.
Within the last decade, the owners of Connecticut coastal properties have been kicked in the shins by rising insurance premiums. Now, the state and municipal governments with jurisdiction over those lands are being kicked by Moody's Investors Service. This credit rating agency, arguably our nation's most respected, has put coastal states and municipalities on notice that Moody's credit ratings for state and municipal bonds will hereafter be tied to coastal preparedness.
The fiscally conservative and hazards aware part of me is loving this news because it proclaims an obvious truth that we geologists have taught for a half-century. Easy come, easy go. Lowlands created easily by shallow fill will be the first to go under. We're talking about our national mall in Washington, D.C., much of the Bay Area in San Francisco, the Florida coastal strip, New York, Boston and countless other cities with large areas of low-lying fill within city limits.
National News Clips
December 4, 2017- Trump Disbands Community Resilience Panel
The Trump administration has disbanded an interagency panel created to help cities deal with the effects of climate change.
Jesse Keenan, a Harvard University professor who leads the group, confirmed the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology was scrapping the Community Resilience Panel. Bloomberg News first reported the development.
"Our federal support has dwindled as people took early retirements, left their posts or were reassigned," said Keenan in an email.
"I don't think Commerce made a specific decision to end the CRP because of any controversy associated with climate change," he wrote. "I think we were just collateral damage."
NIST was the panel's main sponsor, with representatives from U.S. EPA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, NOAA and other agencies.
While its charter is being dissolved, Jennifer Huergo, NIST's director of media relations, said the agency was turning the panel into a working group.
She said the decision to end the panel was made by NIST's Community Resilience Program without influence from political leadership.
The program "conducted an assessment of the panel and its mission and determined that a national workshop would be a more effective and efficient way to support the goals of the program," she said in an email.
Keenan said the panel's legacy was the regional cross-collaborations and information sharing that happened among the federal government, local and state governments, and the private sector.
"We identified gaps in codes and standards, we proposed streamlined communications channels, we vetted best practices in design standards, we created guides for operators of infrastructure facilities, etc.," he wrote.
December 1, 2017- Credit Rating Agency Issues Warning On Climate Change To Cities
One of the largest credit rating agencies in the country is warning U.S. cities and states to prepare for the effects of climate change or risk being downgraded.
a new report
, Moody's Investor Services Inc. explains how it assesses the credit risks to a city or state that's being impacted by climate change - whether that impact be a short-term "climate shock" like a wildfire, hurricane or drought, or a longer-term "incremental climate trend" like rising sea levels or increased temperatures.
Also taken into consideration: "[communities] preparedness for such shocks and their activities in respect of adapting to climate trends," the report says.
"If you have a place that simply throws up its hands in the face of changes to climate trends, then we have to sort of evaluate it on an ongoing basis to see how that abdication of response actually translates to changes in its credit profile," says Michael Wertz, a Moody's vice president.
Ratings from agencies such Moody's help determine interest rates on bonds for cities and states. The lower the rating, the greater the risk of default. That means cities or states with a low rating can expect to pay higher interest rates on bonds.
"This puts a direct economic incentive [for communities] to take protective measures against climate change," says Rachel Cleetus, the lead economist and climate policy manager at the
Union of Concerned Scientists
Moody's is the first of the country's big three credit rating agencies to publicly outline how it weighs climate change risks into its credit rating assessments. And it's just the latest "market-based signal," Cleetus says, "that what seemed like a far-off distant future gets collapsed into the present and that people have to start making decisions now based on what is already baked in reality for many of these places."
In its report, Moody's breaks the U.S. into seven "climate regions," based off of geography, regional economies and expected risks.
In the Midwest, "impacts on agriculture are forecast to be among the most significant economic effects of climate change," the report says.
The Southwest is projected to become more vulnerable to extreme heat, drought, rising sea levels and wildfires.
Rising sea levels and their effect on coastal infrastructure is the biggest forecast impact on the Northeast.
November 30, 2017- Army Engineers Warn of Brutal Future For Ohio River Region From Climate Change
Climate change will push the Ohio River and its tributaries into uncharted waters, setting off economic and environmental crises like never before across a 13-state region.
That's the conclusion of a new U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report that hits close to home. It found that flooding, drought and power failures could become more frequent in Kentucky and Indiana - and the rest of the Ohio River basin.
"The changes are happening today," said Kathleen D. White, a climate change expert at the Corps headquarters who oversaw development of the study. "This isn't something that's just in the future."
The study makes the case that a healthy Ohio River is essential to the United States for industrial manufacturing, power generation, drinking water supplies, transportation of goods through a network of locks and dams, recreation and maintenance of the natural world.
"This is a major river in the heartland of the United States," said Paul Kirshen, professor of climate adaptation at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and one of the report's authors. "It contributes a great deal to the (economy) of the region and the environment of the region. And it is going to be pretty severely impacted by climate change."
The study concludes that the most dramatic effects are likely two decades away. But changes are happening more quickly than previously thought, and the time to start bracing for "a new normal" and making plans to adapt is now, White said.
The document is intended to help the 27 million people who live in 2,400 urban and rural communities across 204,000 square miles understand that the Ohio River and its tributaries will not escape climate disruption.
November 30, 2017- Local Action Grows in South Fla. As State Hems, Haws
The slate of Florida municipalities taking action on climate change is poised to add Sarasota, a Gulf Coast city of 57,000 people, in a move that signals strengthening local ambition as state officials eschew muscular efforts to confront rising temperatures.
The plan could be adopted as soon as January after city staff present a final draft to elected officials Monday for review.
The nearly 100-page document, which underwent final public review and comment in November, reflects 15 months of work by city staff and private consultants to identify the risks to public health and infrastructure from rising sea levels, storm surges, warming temperatures and other climate phenomena in one of the country's most exposed states.
It also places Sarasota among a growing number of Florida counties and cities that are no longer waiting for Gov. Rick Scott (R) to acknowledge the peril that climate change poses to a state with 1,200 miles of coastline.
"As a coastal city, the application of climate change science to inform our administrative decisions, public policy, and infrastructure investments is critical," Thomas Barwin, Sarasota's city manager, wrote in the introduction to the draft adaptation plan, which could be adopted by the city commission as soon as January.
"Doing nothing is not an option," Barwin continued. "We must both mitigate our contribution to the climate change challenge and adapt to changing circumstances if we are going to maintain the quality of life our residents and visitors enjoy."
Like other communities in southwest Florida, Sarasota's economic engine is fueled by year-round beach tourism, a winter surge in seasonal residents, and associated retail and service industries. Yet the city is one of the oldest on the Gulf Coast, and observers say it has a long tradition of civic engagement and a strong commitment to environmental health and sustainability.
For example, Sarasota recently committed to meet 100 percent of the city's energy needs with renewable resources by 2045, with an interim goal of meeting all energy demand by municipal buildings with renewables by 2030. Only one other city in Florida, St. Petersburg, has adopted a similar policy, according to the Sustainable City Network.
"We have little pockets [of residents] here and there that have questioned what we're doing," said Stevie Freeman-Montes, the city's sustainability manager and one of the architects of the climate adaptation plan. "But we're also seeing a lot more people questioning what's happening right now. We have residential areas that flood with routine rainfall. It doesn't take a hurricane or big storm surge to see what we're up against."
The Resilience Roundup highlights
CIRCA's presence in the news, provides links to recent local/state/national news articles related to resilience and adaptation, and announces upcoming events and seminars.
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience and Climate Adaptation's (CIRCA) mission is to increase the resilience and sustainability of vulnerable communities along Connecticut's coast and inland waterways to the growing impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the natural, built, and human environment. The institute is located at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus and includes faculty from across the university. CIRCA is a partnership between UConn and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).