Best Practice

GreenStep City Best Practices: Resilient Economic and Community Development
Climate Adaptation and Community Resilience {BP No. 29}

Plan and prepare for extreme weather, adapt to changing climatic conditions, and foster stronger community connectedness and social and economic vitality.

Step 3 Recognition Best Practice for Category A, B and C cities

Category A & B cities: implement this best practice by completing action 1 at a 2-Star rating.

Category C cities: implement this best practice by completing action 1.

Optional Metric for Step 4 Recognition


Resilient communities have the strength to withstand, respond to, and adapt more readily to acute shocks (such as flooding from extreme precipitation) and chronic stresses (such as ongoing effects of the changing climate on the local tourist economy). The urban heat island effect may worsen chronic stresses.

Minnesota already is experiencing changes to its highly variable climate with shorter winters, fewer cold extremes, and more heavy and extreme precipitation resulting in repeated freeze-thaw cycles, a longer growing season, and new invasive species. Based on climate modeling, it is expected that in the future Minnesota additionally will face heat extremes and drought, with diminished air quality from increased wildfire smoke, higher levels of ozone, more pollen, etc. Implementing best practice actions to plan and prepare for such events and trends will strengthen cities for greater resilience to the changing climate.

This best practice is organized according to the four essential dimensions of urban resilience from The City Resilience Framework as follows:

  • Health & Wellbeing - provide access to resources to help everyone survive extreme weather and the changing climate. (Action 1)
  • Leadership & Strategy - implement effective leadership, inclusive decision-making, empowerment of stakeholders, and integrated planning. (Action 2)
  • Economy & Society - promote cohesive and engaged communities and foster economic prosperity. (Actions 3 and 4)
  • Infrastructure & Environment - protect, enhance, and ensure continuity of the constructed and natural systems that provide critical services and connect urban assets. (Actions 5 through 8)

Greenstep Advisor

Laura Millberg Caucasian with brown/gray shoulder-length hair and bangs to eyebrows. Brown eyes and dark rimmed glasses.

Laura Millberg, Climate Change Resilience Coordinator, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651/757-2568,,


Connection to State Policy

On October 16, 2015, Governor Dayton signed the Under 2 MOU, a global compact among cities, states and regions worldwide to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). This Global Climate Leadership Memorandum of Understanding recommits Minnesota to limit the impact of climate change and to collaborate on actions that promote adaptation and resilience. Signatories will share green infrastructure solutions and innovative practices for financing and supporting climate adaptation.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency strategic plan for 2018-2022 includes the cross-agency goal: Act on opportunities to increase resilience of communities and the environment to climate change impacts.


Major Benefit

Sustainability and Resilience are different lenses that overlap. Sustainable communities strive to achieve economic stability, environmental health, and social wellbeing for all without compromising opportunities for future generations to enjoy the same. Resilient communities understand that impacts of climate change are occurring now. Resilient communities prepare for, adapt to, and thrive in the face of abrupt and unforeseen weather, social, and economic changes, while increasing the use of clean energy sources and enhancing local infrastructure to limit risk and accelerate recovery from disaster, now and into the future. Many sustainability best practices are also resilience best practices, providing co-benefits to reduce risk, enhance public amenities, decrease GHG emissions, strengthen air and water quality, and more.

FEMA describes the social and economic benefits of resilience.

Benefits of Whole Community Resilience Planning from the Geos Institute Climate Ready Communities program include:

  • Reduces chronic stressors, such as water shortages, wildfire/flood risk, and air quality/health problems
  • Helps communities make smart investments
  • Creates co-benefits across the community
  • Minimizes redundancy and conflict
  • Builds new community linkages and relationships
  • Creates buy-in for implementing resilience strategies
  • Promotes nature-based solutions
  • Ensures that the needs of underrepresented people are met

Delivering Urban Resilience, a 2018 report from the clean energy advisory and venture capital firm Capital E, crunches the numbers on three cities (Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, El Paso) and concludes that investing in city-wide adoption of cool roofs, green roofs, solar PV, reflective pavements, and urban trees could deliver roughly half a trillion dollars in net financial benefits nationally.

According to the Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2019 Report (National Institute of Building Sciences), exceeding code requirements for new-building construction to protect against riverine flood has a benefit cost ratio of 5:1.

Weathering Change: Local Solutions for Strong Communities Webinar Series (The Center for Climate Preparedness) puts the climate adaptation and resilience insights of national and local experts at your fingertips.