This section provides resources for communities working to integrate strategies into local comprehensive plans to be more resilient in the face of a changing climate. As communities adjust to increasingly extreme weather events, stress on public facilities, and higher costs of services, there is growing need to not only plan for these events, but to also reduce the impacts through conscious climate adaptation and resilience planning. Moreover, resiliency also considers reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions so that the extent of climate change does not exceed the capacity to adapt and become resilient. 

Thrive MSP 2040 encourages planning for climate change as part of your comprehensive plan update. Climate mitigation strategies such as promoting land use and development patterns will contribute toward achieving Minnesota’s adopted greenhouse gas emissions goals. Climate adaptation strategies such as recognizing changing rainfall patterns that require additional storm water management capacity acknowledge the new and growing risks associated with climate change.

Not all consequences of climate change are environmental; societal and economic challenges will need to be addressed as well. Resiliency is having the capacity to respond, adapt, and thrive under changing conditions. Consideration of vulnerabilities - and responses to those vulnerabilities - will strengthen your community’s ability to prepare for and respond to climate impacts. Resiliency includes planning for more severe weather and prolonged heatwaves, for improved health of your residents, and planning for economic strength and diversity. As you may recognize from these examples, many elements that your community already includes in its plan and in actions it has already undertaken, address some resiliency issues.

Resilience Plan

Climate change has the potential to have major impacts on infrastructure and environmental assets in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Those assets are most directly threatened by the increased frequency and intensity of rain storms and heatwaves, which often lead to flooding and power outages, respectively. Completing assessments, utilizing resiliency tools, and applying best management practices are essential for protecting a community and region’s infrastructure and environmental assets.

 Minimum Requirements:
  • None.

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  Stormwater and Wastewater Infrastructure
 Road, Bridge, and Airport Infrastructure
 Environmental Assets - Air, Water, and Soil
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  • We have additional guidance for other infrastructure resilience issues and opportunities in the plan elements for  Water Resources (surface, drinking, wastewater), Transportation (roads, transit, ped/bike/aviation), and Parks & Trails.

  • Give your Sector Rep a call to discuss ideas.

Resilient energy infrastructure and reduced energy and water use enhances reliability of the electricity grid while mitigating climate change impacts. Local governments in the seven-county metropolitan area are required by state law to include an element in their Plan for protection and development of access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems. Given the availability of new data, our ability to measure solar as a resource has improved. Subsequently, communities will need to provide data, maps, and policies for the protection and development of solar resources in their plan updates.

 Minimum Requirements:
  • Solar Resource Protection: Include your community’s Minnesota Solar Suitability Analysis Map. This is available on your Community Page.

  • Solar Resource Protection: Include calculations of your community’s gross solar and rooftop solar resource. This is available on your Community Page.

  • Solar Resource Development: Include a policy or policies relating to the development of access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems.

  • Solar Resource Development: Include strategies needed to implement the policy or policies.

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    Renewable Energy
  • Explore solar energy example Plan language for goals, policies, and strategies.

  • Assess best practices for addressing solar energy development in your comprehensive plan. The Minnesota Grow Solar Planning/Zoning/ Permitting Toolkit contains best practices and model ordinances that are specific for Minnesota communities.

  • The national SolSmart certification program can provide additional technical assistance for making your community solar-ready. SolSmart certification can be used to demonstrate that the community has met statutory minimum standards for protecting and developing solar resources. The Council currently has a SolSmart Advisor on staff; please contact your Sector Rep for assistance in planning for solar.

  • Evaluate options for implementing your policy for solar by reviewing local ordinance examples from Cities like Falcon Heights or Rosemount. Include developing a solar ordinance as an implementation strategy in your plan.

  • Identify areas of potential solar production in your community using the University of Minnesota’s solar mapping tool

  • The Solar Outreach Partnership hosts information and resources to facilitate solar energy adoption for local governments, including workshops, peer-to-peer sharing, research, and online tools and reports.

  • GreenStep Cities can get additional direct assistance for mapping or energy planning from the Metro Clean Energy Resource Teams and the Great Plains Institute. Additional assistance includes analysis of gross solar and rooftop solar generation potential to community energy use, more granular mapping of the solar resource, and best practices for solar development goals. 

  • The American Planning Association has compiled renewable energy guidance on how to address energy resources in your comprehensive plan. The solar energy PAS examples and the PAS reports are free of charge, and the energy/climate and wind energy examples are available for sale on the APA website.

  • Consider renewable energy as an interim use on underutilized or brownfield land. The City of Hutchinson won the 2017 Environmental Initiative Award for its 400kW landfill-mounted solar energy system. A developer presentation details how the city utilized its landfill site for energy generation. The EPA’s Re-Powering Mapping & Screening Tools can help you identify renewable energy potential on contaminated land, landfills, and mine sites.

 Energy Efficiency and Conservation
  • Consider implementing policy options contained in the Georgetown Climate Center report, “MN Options to Increase Climate Resilience in Buildings.

  • Explore including supportive goals and policies for capturing your community’s energy efficiency resources through encouraging sustainable building design, such as Saint Paul’s Sustainable Building policy

  • Consider establishing a formal collaboration with an energy utility as an implementation step, similar to the Clean Energy Partnership in Minneapolis or participating in the Partners in Energy initiative with Xcel Energy program. 

  • Explore adopting a commercial building benchmarking ordinance such as has been implemented by the City of Minneapolis.

  • Consider Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) as an implementation tool in your Plan. PACE is a financing tool that allows property owners to access competitive private financing through a partnership with local governments and the St. Paul Port Authority. Building owners who use PACE financing for their energy improvements pay back the financing through property taxes, as a voluntary special assessment. Consult the Authority about Joint Powers Agreement opportunities. 

  • Review Minnesota Housing’s “Home Fix Up Fund” to address weatherization and energy conservation in existing buildings.

  • Utilize policy and implementation tools in developing local energy systems from the Minnesota Local Government Project for Energy Planning (LoGoPEP), including an energy planning guide and workbook for the 2040 comprehensive planning process, a sample city climate resilience request for proposal, an example analysis of energy existing conditions documenting a city’s energy use profile and available energy resources, and a solar energy calculator to assist in setting solar energy development goals. 

  • ​Benchmark your own efforts with the City of St. Louis Park, which successfully adopted an Energy Action Plan through an energy planning process conducted by Xcel Energy. The process included residents and business owners and developed goals and strategies to increase community efforts around sustainable energy.

 We Can Help!
  • Access your Community Page to find solar maps and calculations. We’ve provided this information for you

  • If you want to know more about the Solar Resource Protection requirement maps and calculations, we have created a Factsheet for you.

  • ​If you want to know more about the Solar Resource Development requirement model policies and strategies, we have created a Factsheet for you.

  • Watch our PlanIt webinar entitled “Comprehensive Planning for Solar Energy Systems”. The webinar details specific statutory requirements, solar market conditions and trends, and policies and implementation strategies for solar planning.

  • Check out Mahtomedi’s summarized Resilience and Sustainability vision and policies from its 2040 draft plan. 

  • If you would like to learn more about what other local communities are doing, please contact your Sector Rep.

The health and welfare of residents is a priority for all cities. Fostering healthy communities through better food choices, complete streets, and advocating for active living can strengthen a population and reduce the impact of climate related events. Resiliency issues and opportunities related to healthy community transportation (Healthy Environment, Bicycling and Walking) and access to recreation and green space (Regional and Local Parks and Trails) are addressed in the Transportation and Parks elements of the Local Planning Handbook.

 Minimum Requirements:
  • None

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  • Consider how your community could prepare for the health vulnerabilities to climate change identified in the Minnesota Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment prepared by the Minnesota Department of Health.

  • ​Consult GreenStep Cities best practices #11, #12, #16, #23, and #27 regarding Healthy Community for goals and strategies that can be incorporated into your Plan. 

  • The urban heat island effect is a specific climate adaptation health risk that can be addressed in your plan. This effect can increase temperatures several degrees higher than the less developed areas around them and can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and water quality. Explore opportunities to integrate EPA heat island mitigation strategies into your local comprehensive plan, education and engagement efforts, and other plans and ordinances.

  • Offering views of greenery can help reduce stress levels and provide a connection to nature Explore how to reserve sightlines and views of greenery (e.g., Mississippi River, lakes, bluffs, etc.) from public, residential and commercial buildings with the Minnesota Healthy Planning: How-To Guide (pages 68-69).

  • Consider expansion and maintenance of vegetated open space and green infrastructure installation to improve water quality and manage stormwater, like the City of Maplewood.

  • Learn how to eliminate food deserts and ensure that your community has reliable access to healthy, safe, and affordable food with the Minnesota Food Charter Food Access Planning Guide

  • Residents who can easily and comfortably move on foot in their neighborhoods tend to get more physical activity and feel safer. Conduct a walkability survey to gauge how mobile the conditions of your area are

  • Consider conducting a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of your existing plan as part of the development of your 2040 plan, like the City of St. Louis Park.

  • Use the Comprehensive Planning for a Healthy Community Checklist Tool to help determine what health-supporting policies already exist in your comprehensive plan, and what policies you should consider.

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  • A 2040 draft plan example from the City of Osseo uses health priorities and outcomes as a focus throughout all chapters of the plan. Previous plan examples from Hopkins and Roseville may help you address this section of your plan.

  • Do you want to consider alternative outreach formats, but are not sure where to start? Give your Sector Rep a call about ideas.

A diverse local economy that strategically uses local resources is less vulnerable to economic volatility and regional or global recession. Minimizing exposure of city budgets to the risk of property value fluctuations or development cycles will help cities be better prepared for circumstances beyond normal operations. In addition, socially cohesive and engaged communities are better positioned to respond to natural and economic crises. Planning for regular engagement with residents and businesses, and measuring progress toward goals (and communicating progress to residents) will help create a strong network during and after critical weather or environmental events or economic crises. In addition, integrating hazard mitigation into the local comprehensive plan establishes resilience as an overarching community value to avoid increased hazard vulnerability by guiding future growth and development away from areas with known hazards (e.g. increasing flood plain size, steep slopes, etc.) or otherwise finding solutions to address them.

 Minimum Requirements:Family by White Bear Lake
  • None

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  • Consider alternatives to the traditional planning and public outreach process. Ideas include morning meetings, childcare, venues which are already gathering locations/events, social media, “meeting in a box”, on-line resources.

  • GreenStep City Best practice #24, Benchmarks and Community Engagement, provides best practices examples of how communities can set benchmarks, measure progress, communicate to residents and businesses, and foster a trust relationship with people in the community through communication and engagement. 

  • The Government Alliance on Race and Equity offer resources and trainings in meaningful, equitable, engagement. Voices for Racial Justice have put together a very concise Racial Equity Impact Assessment Pocket Guide for use in decision-making and implementation to ensure equitable outcomes. 

  • Consider planning for the most vulnerable of your population in all aspects of the comprehensive plan, as climate can have varying impacts on vulnerable populations such as elderly, young, and impoverished populations. The Minnesota Department of Health’s Public Health Data Access Portal is a great starting point for accessing health information. Headwaters Economics has produced a Populations at Risk tool for identifying vulnerable populations in your community. The Georgetown Climate Center’s newly launched Adaptation Equity Portal offers resources for equity-focused community resilience work.

  • Many local governments have a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved hazard mitigation plan to be eligible for federal disaster mitigation assistance funds. Consider integrating your hazard mitigation plan into your comprehensive plan to help you assess your community’s vulnerabilities and incorporate resiliency into your plans. FEMA’s fact sheet called Integrating Hazard Mitigation into the Comprehensive Plan provides a good starting point. 

  • Additional GreenStep Cities best practices that address the Economy and Society component of community resiliency include Best Practice #25 Green Business Development, #27 Local Food, and #28 Business Synergies.  

  • If approached sensitively, the redevelopment of blighted brownfield areas can transform the local economy and society. The Brownfield Health Indicator Tool, developed by Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Brownfields can provide a best practice template for how to approach challenging redevelopment opportunities.

  • The collaborative project Risky Business highlights and quantifies the economic cost of climate change in the US.

  • Two strong frameworks for guiding and executing an overall Climate Change Assessment for a community are the Saint Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and the MN Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. The EPA’s Climate Change Adaptation Resource Center (ARC-X) walks through the MN Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment process and provides applicable EPA tools.

 We Can Help!
  • Check out some Plan Examples from Golden Valley and Woodbury that may help you address this section of your plan.

  • Give your Sector Rep a call to discuss ideas.

Resilience Resources

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