Planning our Resilient Communities of the Future

In the last few decades there have been frequent climate-related and natural disasters, resulting in an increase of risk to the normal functions of our communities. Local, state, and federal entities are proactively stepping up to the demand and necessity of incorporating resilience preparation into long-term community planning.

Resilient Virginia

Resilient Virginia was created in 2014 and is comprised of leaders from the government, private sector, academia, and the Virginia Sustainable Building Network. As a member of Resilient Virginia's board of directors, I focus on using local resources to accelerate community resilience planning across the state. Resilient communities will be able to successfully adapt to changing environmental, social, and economic conditions.

This year, Resilient Virginia worked with Go Green Virginia to incorporate a resiliency checklist into the Green Government Challenge. Go Green Virginia is an initiative started nine years ago by the Virginia Municipal League and the Virginia Association of Counties to recognize that communities need to take innovative steps to reduce energy usage and promote sustainability. More than 20 governments participate in the Green Government Challenge, and it's designed to encourage implementation of environmental policies and practical actions to reduce carbon emissions and save local governments money. There are many sections within the challenge that governments can focus on, including community involvement, energy efficiency, waste management, and innovation. The resiliency section features the checklist with key points communities need to cover to increase resilience.

Green infrastructure was used as non-structural mitigation to provide storm damage reduction, flood mitigation, and stormwater retention for the Oakwood Beach flood attenuation feasibility study.

Resiliency Checklist (download here)

  1. Policy and Leadership
    Focus on sufficiency and completeness of emergency response programs and hazard mitigation plans, as well as integration and coordination among local planning mechanisms.
  2. Prepare for Natural and Man-made Hazards in the Community:
    Evaluation of community vulnerability to a range of threats and adoption of policies that address vulnerable populations, strengthen economic assets, and protect natural resources from natural and man-made hazards.
  3. Increase Energy Security, Improve Energy Efficiency and Explore Renewable Energy Options
    Develop an energy assurance plan to strengthen the ability of your local government to respond to and operate in energy emergencies, implement energy efficiency programs, and consider renewable energy options.
  4. Renew and Strengthen Critical Infrastructure and Buildings
    Identify critical infrastructure and emergency facilities, and outline efforts to reduce community flood risk in these areas.
  5. Strengthen the Local Economy
    Determine what is needed to ensure long-term economic success of the community through investment in infrastructure, economic diversification, and workforce development.
  6. Health and Well Being
    Communities must anticipate, address and prepare for potential health hazards and challenges to continuation of health care access caused by extreme weather events, recurrent flooding, extended high heat, or other hazards.

Looking Ahead

It's important that we're taking steps to build resilient communities for our future so we are able to recover from disasters and disruptions without weakening other community entities. This resiliency checklist is a tool for counties and municipalities to use to make sure they're on the right track when creating long-term plans. When we're better prepared for uncertainties we're able to adapt better. Successful resilient communities will have developed the ability to prepare for anticipated hazards, adjust to ever-changing conditions, and recover from disruptions. I look forward to using the checklist with our clients.

  • Jane Frantz
    Jane Frantz
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