Climate Ready DC: The District of Columbia’s Plan to Adapt to a Changing Climate

The District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) has released the Climate Ready DC climate adaptation plan, charting a city-wide course to respond to burgeoning impacts, including longer, more frequent heatwaves; more frequent intense storms; and increasing sea levels and riverine flooding.

The plan identifies projected climate change impacts to infrastructure, community resources, natural resources, and people. In developing Climate Ready DC, DOEE specifically sought to account for the disproportionate climate change impacts on frontline communities by considering social and economic indicators - including poverty, health indicators, and age - as part of its vulnerability analysis.

Climate Ready DC stresses that not all communities and people will be affected equally by climate change. In order to identify the areas in DC that are most vulnerable, DC considered social and economic factors and also mapped risks to community resources such as schools, emergency shelters, and recreation centers.

They found that Wards 7 and 8 are most vulnerable to climate change given high levels of unemployment, poverty, obesity, asthma, and the large number of elderly people. Ward 7 is also home to the largest number of vulnerable community resources, including schools, medical services, and public housing that sit along the flood-prone Watts Branch tributary.

A number of strategies in the plan seeks to address these disproportionate risks. Strategies include:

  • Strengthening community connections and reducing the economic impacts of extreme weather to improve safety and resilience. As part of this strategy, DC plans to support capacity-building resources and training for community organizations.
  • Reducing the risk of extreme heat by targeting green spaces and cooling centers to meet the needs of the most vulnerable residents.
  • Deploying neighborhood-scale resilience strategies, which will include exploring the possibility of community resilience hubs that can serve as emergency preparedness and response centers. 

Climate Ready DC outlines responses across four sectors:

  • Transportation and Utilities;
  • Buildings and Development;
  • Neighborhoods and Communities; and
  • Governance and Implementation.

For each sector, the plan identifies goals, targets, and specific actions. The goals and targets are outlined in the “Adaptation Strategies” section, and a full summary of all of the recommended strategies is provided as a companion report. 

Three supporting technical reports are available for further detail:

  • Climate Projections and Scenario Development
  • Vulnerability and Risk Assessment
  • Climate Change Adaptation Recommendations


The Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) directly supported DOEE’s adaptation planning efforts, serving as an active participant in the Climate Ready DC advisory group and helping to craft and analyze the flood-resilience strategies the plan proposes.

GCC has assisted the District’s sustainability and climate-change adaptation efforts since their inception. Over the last five years, GCC prepared legal strategies to help the District address the urban heat island effect through a combination of interventions; and participated in the development of the Sustainable DC Plan that gave rise to Climate Ready DC.


Publication Date: November 15, 2016

Related Organizations:

  • District Department of Energy and the Environment (DDOE) - Washington DC

Related Resources:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

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