CLIMATE SMART CITIES
Few cities understand the gravity of climate change and its potential consequences for communities in the way that New Orleans does. A city known for its lively culture, rich history, and dedicated residents, New Orleans has historically been positioned at the challenging confluence of vital economic venue and fragile natural systems. In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the City of New Orleans unveiled a commitment and strategy to tackle future shocks and stresses of climate change, as well as to reduce the economic and social disparities that contribute to climate vulnerability for some communities.
The Trust for Public Land’s national Climate-Smart Cities program is providing key planning and decision-making support to help the city achieve the goals laid out in Resilient New Orleans and more by leveraging the power of green infrastructure for those who need it most. Together with city and community partners, we’re bringing cutting-edge science, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) planning, and innovative design to drive park, open space and green infrastructure solutions in preparing the city and its most vulnerable for a climate-resilient future.
Our Climate-Smart Cities process bring together a team of experts to research, design, and build the infrastructure and tools that help increase our resilience to climate change. Our strategy is to:
Over 380,000 people call New Orleans home, where the local median household income is 30% lower than the U.S. median household income. Climate change will bring a suite of challenges for the City of New Orleans, but the threats of sea level rise, increased flooding due to storms and precipitation events, and growing temperatures and urban heat, rise to the top. Louisiana is projected to experience 4.3 feet of relative sea level rise – the highest rate in the world. At this rate and without action, the city will lose a projected 1,806 square miles by 2060. Due in part to historic settlement patterns, people of color and low income residents are more likely to live in low-elevation areas and are therefore disproportionately exposed to flood risk. It’s also expected that, by 2050, Louisiana will experience more than 80 days annually of extreme heat (greater than 95˚F).
Working in partnership with city agencies, and with critical input from state and federal partners, the local non-profit community, and research institutions, The Trust for Public Land’s Climate-Smart Cities program is meeting the city where they are – taking advantage of the great work happening across the city, from Resilient New Orleans to the federal Natural Disaster Resilience Competition activities to the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board green infrastructure program, and many others – to arm and connect local change agents and resources for greatest impact.
GIS-based Decision Support
A web-based decision support tool and other related web applications will foster effective collaboration and science-based prioritization for green infrastructure development. This Climate-Smart Cities planning tool will consider climate risks in New Orleans and identify priority areas for multi-benefit green infrastructure investment—based on environmental threat and the location of vulnerable populations. The development of the tool was guided by a Technical Advisory Team with representatives from each of partner agencies, organizations, and universities.
Green Infrastructure Demonstration
In collaboration with city agencies and other partners, The Trust for Public Land used the decision support tool analysis to identify a site for multi-benefit green infrastructure, serving priority communities for heat mitigation and stormwater retention, at the Paul Habans School. The Paul Habans School, a new school funded by Katrina recovery dollars, will become a green space with an educational stormwater center, trees, woodlands and meadows for cooling benefits, and a dynamic play environment.