TownGreen2025 (TG2025) is pleased to announce the launch on September 1st of a climate vulnerability project in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD). Cape Ann has been selected for an EPA “Building Blocks for Resilience” technical assistance program and TG has successfully raised the funds for a Harvard GSD study of climate threats and solutions in the region.
TownGreen2025 is a local volunteer-led organization that has been promoting climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including clean energy, since 2015. TG2025 is sponsored by the non-profit Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation.
Cape Ann has been selected by the EPA as one of only four communities in the country for technical assistance under its Building Blocks for Resilience program. EPA will be working with Town Green, the four municipalities and a stakeholder advisory group to convene several workshops in the winter and spring of 2022. The goal will be to assess and prioritize vulnerabilities and potential strategies for protecting Cape Ann coastlines or developing longer-term strategies of relocation of buildings and safeguarding infrastructure. Cape Ann municipalities have each already completed municipal vulnerability plans (MVP) that have assessed the risks from sea level rise and flooding. EPA will also identify federal and state funding sources, as well as helping to develop local financing strategies for the completed recommendations of the HGSD and related municipal MVP studies.
The HGSD work will be divided into four major case scenarios:
The Big Storm
This work will ground and contextualize all subsequent work by providing a visual and graphic representation of “The Big Storm,”—that is, what will happen if we do nothing. The study will present a vision of the future of the Cape Ann region without mitigation or resilience planning, and will display the critical infrastructure that is most likely to be compromised in the event of a 100-year storm, including transportation routes, low-lying water and sewage treatment plants and infrastructure, residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, and natural resources.
Adaptation: Armoring Infrastructure and Managed Retreat
This work will evaluate the potential of a hybrid approach to adapting coastal development on Cape Ann, combining strategies of both protection and managed retreat. First, the study envisions the effects of armoring Cape Ann’s coast, protecting infrastructure threatened by sea level rise and inundation in both the short and long term. As a secondary adaptive measure, the scenario imagines a managed retreat scenario that builds on existing efforts across the country and highlights the partnerships that Cape Ann might engage to pursue this option.
Resilience: Building Net Zero to Diversify Housing
As a region, Cape Ann faces significant demand for diversified housing options to increase social equity. This scenario will project a range of housing options across Cape Ann that are accessible to a wider range of residents and proposes net-zero and green building strategies including passive design, renewable energy production, and innovative construction methods. The scenario locates the optimal areas for clustered multi-unit housing, as well as retrofitting existing housing stock.
Mitigation: Waste Recovery to Energy Production
Finally, this scenario will propose a program to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases generated by the decomposition of solid waste and envisions multiple strategies for converting waste streams--including wastewater, sewage sludge, and solid waste--into viable low-carbon fuel economies.
Both the EPA and the HGSD work will be coordinated by a core team of Greg Federspiel (Manchester Town Administrator), Valerie Nelson (Director, Water Alliance) and Dick Prouty (Co-Chair of Town Green, Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation).
Many thanks to Senator Bruce Tarr for his role is sponsoring a line item of $50,000 in the State budget for 2021, to help fund the HGSD program. And to Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante for her role in guiding this support through the Ways and Means Committee.