News Release: February 5, 2016

NOAA Grant Will Bring Resilience Efforts into Capital Improvement Planning

CHICAGO — The American Planning Association (APA) will be assisting the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) with their Regional Coastal Resilience Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant totaling $1.05 million will focus on regional-scale efforts to research, identify, and pilot test techniques for reducing climate change hazards facing coastal communities through capital improvement planning.

Trillions of dollars of local infrastructure investments are needed in communities in the next several decades. Planning and constructing capital improvements can be done in such a way that they make coastal communities more resilient from the impacts of climate change — extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions such as sea level rise.

However, very little current capital improvement planning, either a project-by-project basis or multi-year effort, accounts for climate change data or resilience. This is a very new approach and techniques are currently unknown, or just starting to develop. This grant will help identify and advance the best techniques for incorporating long-term resilience efforts into capital improvement planning.

ASFPM Executive Director Chad Berginnis said, "This project will mainstream techniques for building in coastal resiliency. We know there are techniques being tested and used in isolation around this country, but very few are known and widely available to engineers, planners and floodplain managers. So this project will identify, test and present those techniques to the practitioner community."

"It is a new era for hazard mitigation efforts by combining resiliency efforts into capital improvement planning efforts," said James C. Schwab, AICP, manager of APA's Hazards Planning Center. "This approach will maximize economic benefits and enhance the safety of the community. It will also push the boundaries for how communities will be able to use available federal data to make informed decisions."

"Building Coastal Resilience through Capital Improvement Planning: Guidance for Practitioners" is a three-year project. The first phase of the project will explore techniques for incorporating climate change into capital improvement planning efforts. The second phase will test the techniques among the two regional pilot program partners — the City of Toledo and Lucas County, Ohio; and Chatham County and Chatham County-Metropolitan Planning Commission (Savannah). The regional partners represent two different types of coastal communities. This will ensure the best techniques identified will be applicable to all coastal communities.

APA and ASFPM are both long-standing partners of the Digital Coast program. This grant will further inform professional planners about the coastal data and tools available and enhance use. Other Digital Coast partners will play a role in advising the project.

APA's involvement in the Building Coastal Resilience project will be conducted under APA's Hazard Planning Center, one of APA's National Centers for Planning. The center advances practices that promote resilience by reducing the impact of natural hazards on communities and regions.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 40,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries.


Roberta Rewers, APA; 312-786-6395;
Michele Mihalovich, ASFPM, 608-828-6328;