Climate Change and "Coast Smart" Construction (Maryland Executive Order 01.01.2012.29)

On behalf of the State of Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley has signed the Executive Order (01.01.2012.29) Climate Change and “Coast Smart” Construction on December 28, 2012 - a landmark initiative to increase the State’s long term resiliency to storm-related flooding and sea level rise. The Executive Order enacts a number of policy directives, including directing all State agencies to consider the risk of sea level rise, flooding and extreme weather to be taken into account in the construction or reconstruction of all state buildings and facilities - and structures to be elevated two or more feet above the 100-year base flood level.

In particular, this order mandates that all new and substantially reconstructed or rehabilitated permanent state structures located in Special Flood Hazard Areas shall be planned with two feet of freeboard above the 100-year based flood elevation.  The order authorizes the Department of General Services to grant variances for particular projects after consideration of twelve relevant factors. These factors include: the danger that materials may be swept onto other lands; the danger to life and property due to flooding and erosion; the susceptibility of the proposed structure to flood damage; the importance of the services provided by the structure; the availability of suitable alternative locations; and the necessity and benefits of a waterfront location.  

The order also directs the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop additional proposed guidelines concerning Climate Change and "Coast Smart" Construction.  The DNR is mandated meet with the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and other relevant parties to begin discussing recommendations within 45 days and submit an initial report to the Governor within nine months of the effective date of the order.  The report will include recommendations for additional "Coast Smart" criteria for new, reconstructed, or rehabilitated state structures, as well as other infrastructure improvements such as roads, bridges, sewer and water systems, drainage systems, and essential public utilities. It shall also include recommendations concerning the potential application of "Coast Smart" guidelines to non-state infrastructure projects that rely on state funding, and other recommendations for executive and/or legislative action.  

In addition, the Critical Area Commission for the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays is directed to evaluate existing regulations and policies for 'State Agency Action Resulting in Development on State-Owned Land,' and consider adopting new or revised provisions addressing climate change and the risk of sea-level rise and other extreme weather-related impacts.

Finally, the order directs the Scientific and Technical Working Group of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change to review the sea-level rise projections published in the 2008 Maryland Climate Action Plan and provide updated projections based on federal guidance and an assessment of the latest climate science with 180 days of the effective date of the order.


Publication Date: December 28, 2012

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Governor Martin O'Malley

Related Organizations:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Executive order

States Affected:


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