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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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Resilience Hubs: Shifting Power to Communities and Increasing Community Capacity

March 28, 2018

This report describes an initiative of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) to encourage the creation of Resilience Hubs, which are defined as community-serving facilities meant to both support residents and coordinate resource distribution and services before, during or after a natural hazard event. While these are primarily meant to address vulnerability and risk, this report explains how Resilience Hubs can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support social equity. The report draws on lessons from Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, two cities that are actively exploring the Resilience Hub concept.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Kristin Baja, Kristin Baja, CFM

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Port of Long Beach, California Microgrid

2018

In early 2018 the Port of Long Beach, in conjunction with Schneider Electric, began planning a microgrid solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project. The project will enhance reliability and resiliency of the port’s electricity supply, and reduce the port’s carbon footprint, while simultaneously strengthening local workforce development initiatives, and providing paid, on-the-job training to port workers. By powering the port’s electric terminal equipment and reducing its reliance on diesel generators and the grid, the project reduces the port’s GHG emissions footprint and criteria air pollutant emissions. The microgrid implementation will use union labor from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with paid training hours to fill workers’ knowledge gaps in installing comparable microgrids. Moreover, the project enlists and provides educational experience to students from the University of California - Irvine, Advanced Power and Energy program in analyzing its performance data. Funding for the plan comes from a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC), combined with $2.12 million in matched funds from the Port of Long Beach. The grant requires that the project demonstrate benefits to electricity customers in the local grid in the form of enhanced reliability, lower costs, or improved safety. An overriding objective of all CEC grant projects, is to “lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome barriers to achieving the state’s statutory energy goals.” As such, the project must document lessons learned in implementation and maintenance in promotion of replicability of similar projects, and the commercialization of microgrids more broadly.

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The Kresge Foundation Equitable Guidelines for Opportunity Zone Investment

March 2019

The Opportunity Zones (OZ) program, created by the federal Opportunity Act as a part of the 2017 Tax Act, delegates to the U.S. Treasury the authority to set requirements for investment under the act’s tax credit system. The Kresge Foundation, seeing that Treasury requirements were first delayed and ultimately bare, set out to create its own set of guidelines. Kresge provides capitalization to projects in OZs to attract investment, and through covenants with its partners attempts to ensure that such investments are based in a framework of equity.  Within a specific OZ, these covenants include stringent reporting requirements, the creation of a community advisory board explicitly containing members of the OZ’s community, and active promotion of OZ programs to OZ residents. Additionally, Kresge set out minimum standards for both real estate and business investments. Covenants for real estate investments include specifics such as: adopting an “anti-displacement” strategy for all housing investments, shifting focus to projects that create jobs for low-income communities, and mandating that at least 50% of all multifamily housing investments serve residents with incomes under 120% of the OZ’s average median income. For business investments, covenants include requirements that at least 50% of investments create living-wage jobs, and prohibitions on investments in industries that could be harmful to disadvantaged communities and typically create environmental justice issues. (e.g. oil, mining, firearms). 

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Financing resilient communities and coastlines: How environmental impact bonds can accelerate wetland restoration in Louisiana and beyond

August 20, 2018

The Environmental Defense Fund and Quantified Ventures have assessed how an environmental impact bond (EIB) could effectively be used for coastal resilience financing for wetland restoration in Louisiana and other coastal areas. The report outlines the steps Louisiana would take to pilot and implement the EIB to restore the coast and wetlands, while greatly reducing land loss to sea level rise, and incentivizing investment. The framework could also support financing other natural infrastructure projects that build coastal resiliency, and serves as a template for coastal investments anywhere.

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Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change

July 16, 2013

From the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), this report provides a detailed snapshot of the state of resilience planning among a cross-section of global companies, and outlines steps companies can take to better assess and manage their growing climate risks. The report includes a comprehensive review of resilience practices among S&P Global 100 Index companies and detailed case studies of six companies in diverse sectors: American Water, Bayer, The Hartford Group, National Grid, Rio Tinto and Weyerhaeuser.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Meg Crawford, Stephen Seidel

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Baltimore Shines - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Shines is a Baltimore City initiative that helps low-income residents access solar energy through either rooftop installations or community solar projects in Baltimore, Maryland. The program also expands workforce development opportunities in the solar installation industry. Baltimore Shines pilot projects were used to learn about barriers preventing solar installation in low-income communities and to inform the development of a sustainable financing model to increase access to solar energy. As the initial step to teaching energy affordability awareness, Baltimore Shines had community residents’ homes retrofitted by its close affiliate, Civic Works, which installed energy and water conservation equipment in homes. This program was not income restricted and is open to any Baltimore City homeowner or tenant residing in a house or apartment. Baltimore Shines also incorporated the development of workforce opportunities for underemployed and unemployed Baltimore residents through job-training and job placement. Additionally, Baltimore Shines leveraged a state funding program - the Maryland Community Solar Pilot program - that supported investments in renewable energy projects benefiting low- and moderate- income customers and encouraged private investment in the state’s solar industry with incentives for the investors. The program ultimately lowered bills, increased wages for some of the City’s low-income, under-employed or unemployed residents, and enhanced access to solar for many throughout the city. 

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