DAILY NEWS Jan 14, 2013 2:07 PM - 1 comment

Local governments take on climate change after hottest year, Sandy

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Using “cool cement” and setting standards for roofing materials are among the actions some cities in the United States are taking to tackle climate change, and the damage it’s causing to their infrastructures.

ClimateA sustainability focused organization in the United States has released a fact sheet detailing how 20 cities in the country are dealing with climate change, along with the extreme weather that comes with it.

ICLEI USA, a group focused on sustainability issues, suggests that 2012 was a “wake-up call” for governments, as the year turned out to be the hottest year on record for the continental United States, and saw immense damage from “superstorm” Sandy in the fall.

“As Sandy taught us, local governments are the first responders after storms destroy infrastructure—or heat waves roast apartment buildings, or floodwaters inundate main street,” the organization’s blog notes. “And they are responsible not just for emergency response but proactive planning to create more prepared, resilient communities.”

Among the major cities on the ICLEI USA list are Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C.

The fact sheet details how the 20 cities are dealing with major problems arising from climate change, such as drought, increased rainfall and subsequent flooding, and extreme heat.

In Atlanta, the city is looking at requiring cool/reflective roofing standards for city facilities and increasing its tree canopy coverage with 10,000 new trees this year.

Chicago is also working on green roofing standards, while in El Paso, Texas, a conservation campaign last year helped reduce water damage by 635 million gallons, compared to the first nine months of 2011, according to the fact sheet.

Grand Rapids, Michigan has also set a goal to have 100% of its power from renewable sources by 2020, the fact sheet notes.

Here, ICLEI Canada offers a guide on its website called Changing Climates, Changing Communities, to help local governments create adaptation plans.

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