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Seattle Public Utilities - Utility Discount Program

2020

In recent years, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which is the city’s water utility and provides drinking water and wastewater treatment, has strongly emphasized community engagement and equity issues through the creation of a variety of organizations and programs. One organization, Connect Capital, which is comprised of SPU staff and members of a community foundation and a community organization, advises SPU on how to ensure that the benefits of future  investments are equitable and address climate threats to those at risk of displacement. One result of Connect Capital’s encouragement is SPU’s investment in infrastructure in frontline communities, such as the South Park Neighborhood. Another equitable initiative under SPU is the Utility Discount Program, under which seniors, persons with disabilities, and low-income customers receive a reduction in their water and electricity bills. Households with incomes at or below 70% of state median income pay only 50% of their SPU bill. Further still, SPU’s Environmental Justice and Service Equity Division aims to promote inclusive community engagement and collaboration.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Resilient Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Resilient Baton Rouge is a program designed to increase local community capacity in the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana to manage mental and behavioral health in flood-prone parts of the region. By engaging local leaders and healthcare providers, the program has been able to focus on not only delivering mental health services to residents displaced by floodwaters, but also to engage community members in a longer-term process to strengthen both the local communities themselves but also the plans to increase resilience in the region. By deeply engaging affected residents and stakeholders, the plans for resilience broadly are more responsive and targeted to those most affected by the floods. The program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with fiscal sponsorship from the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Million Trees Miami - Miami-Dade County, Florida

Miami-Dade County, Florida’s Million Trees Miami initiative aims to plant 1 million trees in lower-income communities with insufficient tree canopy in order to alleviate heat stress in the county. This initiative stems from the County’s 2006 Street Tree Master Plan, which set a goal to achieve 30% tree canopy in Miami-Dade by 2020. Neat Streets Miami, a multi-jurisdictional County Board, is working to implement this goal through the Million Trees Miami initiative. Through a 2016 Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, the County determined that lower-income areas, including predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhoods, had significantly less tree canopy than their wealthier counterparts. As a result, the County is prioritizing tree planting in its most impoverished and low-canopy areas through initiatives such as the Street Tree Matching Grant. Increased tree canopy cover in communities provides many important adaptation benefits, including protection from flooding, urban heat island mitigation, and improved water and air quality. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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New York City COVID-19 Heat Wave Plan

May 15, 2020

In May of 2020, New York City (NYC)’s Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a COVID-19 Heat Wave Plan to keep vulnerable New Yorkers cool at home, create safer summer cooling options, and anticipate and reduce power outages. The plan addresses the higher risk for indoor summer heat exposure that vulnerable residents face while simultaneously trying to maintain social distancing in the context of a global pandemic. The $55 million plan directs the City to install 74,000 air conditioning units in the homes of residents who are 60 years of age or older, retrofit new spaces for emergency cooling centers, and better prepare for power outages. The plan lessens risk for vulnerable NYC residents of heat-related illnesses and death, as well as COVID exposure or infection. NYC recognizes the intrinsic connection with climate change, social equity, and COVID-19 recovery, and is committed to protecting the most vulnerable from climate impacts like extreme heat.   

 

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Harlem Heat Project, New York City

2016

The Harlem Heat Project is a community-based initiative that began in New York City in the summer of 2016. It combines crowd-sourcing, data reporting, and narrative journalism to tell the story or urban heat islands in New York City. Non-profit journalism and community-based organizations came together to provide low-cost heat sensors to homeowners in "heat-vulnerable" areas of Harlem in New York City. The data was used to tell the story of disproportionate risks to extreme heat for lower-income and communities of color as a result of increasing temperatures from climate change.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Louisville, Kentucky Cool Roof Rebates

March 2017

In 2016, the Louisville Office of Sustainability commissioned a study from Georgia Tech’s Urban Climate Lab to map the hottest areas of the city. The study revealed that not only was Louisville’s urban heat island one of the most severe in the nation, but the hottest areas of the city were, also where the most vulnerable frontline communities were located. The study recommended a variety of interventions, including policies promoting cool surfaces, increased vegetation, and energy efficiency strategies, with each of the interventions combining to be greater than the sum of each when deployed in the same area. One of the interventions that Louisville implemented was a rebate for cool roofs that property owners installed on their buildings. In order to ensure that some of the voluntary funding was allocated for low-income, more vulnerable areas, the office designated 70% of the funding to go to neighborhoods identified in the study as having the most severe heat islands. While rebates can be difficult for low-income property owners, the techniques used to target the program to areas of the highest need can be replicated in other places for grants or no-interest loans. The program was funded through a partnership with Louisville’s energy utility. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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New Orleans, Louisiana Zika virus response

April 2016

In 2016, when the risk of Zika virus in the United States became higher, the mayor of New Orleans brought together public and private partners to proactively manage those risks and protect the city’s most vulnerable residents. By activating the local public health department, the Board of mosquito control, local physicians, environmental experts, and community members, the government was able to create a comprehensive Zika response plan to protect the public, especially pregnant women. In the first phase, partners educated the public on risks and mitigation strategies, especially healthcare providers and facilities. The city also stepped up vector control to reduce risk and surveillance of mosquito populations to ensure effectiveness. This combination of efforts was intended to ensure that Phases 2 and 3 of the Plan (activated in the case of reported cases of Zika) would be delayed or unnecessary due to preventive measures. By focusing education efforts for the public and healthcare entities on the risk to the most vulnerable subgroup of residents, the partners could ensure that pregnant women would be well-protected. The efforts were funded by general public health funding streams.

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Maycroft Apartments “Resiliency Room” in Affordable Housing Complex in Washington, DC

May 2019

A non-profit affordable housing developer, Jubilee Housing, is working to incorporate a “resiliency room” and increase affordable housing by renovating the historic Maycroft Apartments in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D. C.  – an area of the District that has been experiencing rapid gentrification. The project will provide affordable housing and will renovate the complex's basement into a resiliency room to provide both emergency and everyday services for residents.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Bronzeville Microgrid - Chicago, Illinois

2019

The Bronzeville Microgrid project deployed in a neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois demonstrates how utilities can invest in pilot microgrid projects to benefit underserved communities. Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) implemented a 7.7 MW community microgrid that will provide service to approximately 770 customers in the historically black neighborhood of Bronzeville Chicago. The project, which is a key component of the utility’s “Community of the Future Initiative,” will serve an area that includes facilities that provide critical services, including hospitals, police headquarters, fire departments, a library, public works buildings, restaurants, health clinics, public transportation, educational facilities, and churches. Bronzeville, considered to be a climate vulnerable urban area, was selected using a data-driven process and based on many socioeconomic factors including income, public health, and lack of investment in the community’s existing infrastructure. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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The Energy Democracy Scorecard and Flipbook

January 2020

According to the Energy Democracy Scorecard and Flipbook from the Emerald Cities Collaborative, “Energy Democracy” is defined as an ideal scenario where a frontline community “shifts completely away from an extractive economy, energy, and governance system to one that is regenerative, provides reparations, transforms the power structures, and creates new governance and ownership practices. ” The Energy Democracy Flipbook is designed to help frontline communities, such as low-income people of color, who are vulnerable to climate change to self-evaluate their communities’ energy economy condition.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Anthony Giancatarino, Donna House

Resource Category: Education and Outreach

 

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