U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Climate Change Adaptation Plan

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, Federal agencies released their agency Sustainability Plans and Climate Change Adaptation Plans on October 31, 2014. The agencies have been directed to assess their vulnerabilities to climate change impacts in these plans, and to outline how they will protect Federal programs, assets and investments.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Climate Change Adaptation Plan represents an assessment of VA’s identified vulnerabilities to climate change on its mission and infrastructure, and summarizes the actions VA has taken and will take to address its highest-priority vulnerabilities. The VA has already made progress in adaptation through investing in long-term resilience, protecting vulnerable assets, monitoring patient populations for health impacts, providing essential climate change information to veterans and their families, and reducing the impact of the VA's resource consumption. This report also outlines the steps the VA will take to expand its efforts to build resilient infrastructure and systems, and to increase adaptation imperatives across all agency missions and roles. 

The VA’s focal adaptation measures are: 

  • to ensure that long-term capital investments are designed to anticipate climate impacts;
  • to inform staff and veterans of important climate risks, and equip them to prepare and respond; and
  • to build the capacity to monitor and track emerging threats such as new diseases and other public health risks.

The plan primarily focuses on the VA’s physical infrastructure and the effects of climate change on the health of its staff and the veterans it serves. According to the VA, the primary threats to its infrastructure include risk of physical damage and threats to the resource supply networks upon which it relies, including energy and water. New design requirements and standards will take into account changing baseline climate data for energy use, future sea level rise and potential storm surge, and other aspects of physical threats associated with climate change. The VA is also addressing the risks to vital resources and networks, including risks to electricity supply and risks associated with drought. The VA has incorporated adaptation goals such as water and energy efficiency and on-site renewable generation in its long- term capital project prioritization system.

The report also describes the VA’s Strategic Capital Investment Planning (SCIP) process, in which new investments/projects incorporate resilient design principles. In addition to climate change, the VA must address issues of demographics, medical and information technology, health care delivery standards and methods, facility conditions, etc. The VA created the SCIP process for determining the optimal path for prioritizing investments among these multiple goals.

 

 

Publication Date: October 2014

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Related Organizations:

  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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  • Adaptation plan

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