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Sustainable Communities and Transportation


Adapt to the impacts of climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reshaping where and how to build and move from place to place.

A sustainable community is one that seeks a better quality of life for all community members, minimizing physical and socio-economic risks related to climate change, while increasing adaptive capacity at the individual and community scales, and ensuring that human, natural and financial capital can meet both current and future needs. Such a community reduces carbon emissions and leverages the protective qualities of natural systems by adopting compact, efficient land use and (re)development patterns.


Meeting this vision requires a fundamental transformation in how we plan and invest in our communities, including where and how we develop, how we move from place to place, and how we manage land and resources. Local governments’ comprehensive planning, zoning and regulations are critical tools in the toolbox that set a vision and drive change toward more resilient, prosperous, convenient, equitable, healthy and attractive communities for present and future generations. 


The recommendations in this chapter are related to comprehensive planning and the myriad of approaches that should be employed by planners to increase adaptive capacity. These range from the incorporation of resilience objectives and future climate conditions scenarios, to the designation and implementation of localized planning efforts that direct technical assistance and funding opportunities to areas especially vulnerable to sea level rise and associated coastal flooding.


This section also provides recommendations to promote effective engagement of the multiple public- and private-sector entities involved in the provision and maintenance of transportation infrastructure and the delivery of transportation services in the region for climate adaptation and mitigation. Currently, the transportation sector contributes approximately 48% of the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The strategies outlined — such as reducing vehicle miles traveled by shifting trips taken from autos to walking, biking or public transportation — will work to reduce emissions and realize the cross-cutting benefits of more livable and desirable communities in the region.


Regionally coordinated multimodal transportation planning efforts between transportation and planning entities rely on data sharing and analyses, including studies and tools identifying vulnerable and/or at-risk transportation infrastructure and performance metrics. Local and regional planning and decision-making processes must ensure a complementary approach to developing and maintaining a system of land use and transportation that is more resilient, while also reducing vehicle miles traveled, providing more transportation choices and dealing with future uncertainty.

Resources for implementing Sustainable Communities and Transportation recommendations. Read More