By Taylor Mayes, UConn ’18, CIRCA Summer 2017 Undergraduate Intern
“The hundreds of people who have provided input into this Plan should have our sincere thanks. In particular, I wanted to recognize and thank the volunteer members of the Climate Stewardship Council and the staff of Hartford’s Office of Sustainability, created in my office in 2017 thanks to generous funding from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Partners for Places and UConn’s Connecticut Institute for Climate Resilience and Adaptation.” – Mayor Bronin (Hartford’s Climate Action Plan)
Mayor Bronin made that statement when the City of Hartford released their very first Climate Action Plan on July 25, 2017. This is a big achievement for the City as the plan highlights six action areas essential to its sustainable growth: energy, food, landscape, transportation, waste and water. The goal of the plan is to make “incremental but consistent progress in each of the areas” utilizing the resources that they have, and making decisions that are consistent with their three shared values: public health, economic development, and social equity.
CIRCA’s grant made it possible for the City of Hartford to create the Office of Sustainability, which released the Plan. CIRCA awarded the City of Hartford funds through our Municipal Resilience Grant Program to create a one-year Green Infrastructure Specialist position with the City. The Green Infrastructure Specialist will help Hartford not only respond to threats of flooding, but also strategize proactively for the future by evaluating and advancing green infrastructure projects. The Green Infrastructure Specialist position together with a Sustainability Coordinator makes up the Office of Sustainability, which is entirely funded by external grants.
Upon awarding the CIRCA Municipal Resilience Grant to Hartford, CIRCA Executive Director, Jim O’Donnell said, “There really is no better way to enhance the resilience of a city’s stormwater management system to the effects of climate change than to invest in green infrastructure and reduce the amount of water going into the system in the first place. This approach also improves the environment in the City for its citizens and visitors. I look forward to seeing the results of the Mayor’s initiative replicated in other parts of the state.”
The Climate Stewardship Initiative was already making great success through the Climate Stewardship Council, however, the City realized that what they needed to improve the execution of some of their goals was more specific expertise. The City identified the creation of the Green Infrastructure Specialist and Sustainability Coordinator positions to fulfill this need. These positions would strategize ways to deal with infrastructure risks such as flooding and wastewater management, as well as building on existing grants and partnerships – all the while taking full advantage of the political and institutional interest in sustainable cities. The positions could not be filled within the existing City budget, therefore CIRCA’s funding made it possible for them to move from initiative to implementation. The Climate Action Plan is one of the first steps in that process. The Plan demonstrates how investing in municipal projects and policies can generate even more co-benefits and benchmarking moments for a municipality in the long-term.
The Climate Stewardship Initiative exemplifies the importance of supporting the state’s urban communities as they adapt to climate change and lower their environmental footprint, while also helping make them better places to live. CIRCA agrees with UConn Law Professor and Chair of the Hartford Climate Stewardship Council Sara Bronin that, “Having a clean environment isn’t just for the New York Cities and San Franciscos of the world. Citizens in smaller, more challenged cities like Hartford also deserve a healthy, clean environment — and the improved quality of life that goes with it.” (Hartford Courant, 2017)
Congratulations to Hartford on their new Climate Action Plan!
Municipal Resilience Grant Program Accepting Applications
Do you want to help your community become more resilient to the impacts of climate change? CIRCA is currently accepting applications for the next round of funding through the Municipal Resilience Grant Program. Applications are due by September 1, 2017.
CIRCA runs several research projects that provide actionable science and engineering for decision-making and solutions in Connecticut. You can find all of our projects here: http://circa.uconn.edu/projects-products/.