As climate hazards increase and impact urban centers across the country, Buro Happold has been selected through a competitive process for a wide-reaching Climate Action and Resilience Plan project for the St. Paul, Minn.-based Metropolitan Council. Through the Climate Action and Resilience Plan, the organization known as the Metropolitan Council aims to focus on “embedding climate change and resilience planning into Council operations and planning. The plan will also lay the foundation for regional policy that informs planning efforts in the years ahead by identifying effects related to infrastructure, operations, and planning.
The impact of the solutions will be significant. The Metropolitan Council, the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for 186 cities and townships as well as seven counties in the Twin Cities region, represents approximately half of Minnesota's population.
In its primary consulting role, Buro Happold will work closely with Metropolitan Council’s leadership and stakeholders to craft a plan that responds to the area’s social, political and environmental contexts. “The plan aims to support ongoing mitigation and resilience efforts in the region, including for its most vulnerable communities,” according to Christopher Rhie, associate principal with Buro Happold and a noted urban planner and sustainability strategist. “It will also build on policies and initiatives identified in Thrive MSP 2040, a 30-year plan for the area focused on transportation, water resources, housing and parks policies.” Other influences include the region’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory, a Climate Vulnerability Assessment, fleet electrification efforts, and varied Metropolitan Council policies and goals, adds Rhie.
For the Metropolitan Council Climate Action and Resilience Plan, Buro Happold is partnered with the Center for Energy and Environment, a nonprofit organization promoting the responsible use of energy resources in Minnesota that has direct experience with state-level policy advocacy and providing local government assistance.
Buro Happold, a global leader in climate action and resilience plans for municipalities and other organizations, recently unveiled a comprehensive sustainability plan for Los Angeles County as well as a climate action and adaptation plan for the City of West Hollywood, Calif. In 2017, the firm pioneered with New York City and C40 Cities — a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change — by creating the first climate action plan in the world to comply with The Paris Agreement, the international treaty on climate change. Buro Happold has also completed a multiyear effort on climate action and resilience for the City of Cambridge, Mass., and also collaborated with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy to develop regional climate actions in the Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis–St. Paul and Washington, D.C. metropolitan regions.
Led by Rhie, the Metropolitan Council Climate Action and Resilience Plan follows on efforts by Buro Happold in other cities and regions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience, including green building and solar power programs, work with community choice energy programs, municipal retrofit projects, community outreach, and municipal facility benchmarking and reporting.
“The Metropolitan Council is uniquely situated to bolster regional efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change,” says Rhie, noting the group’s focus on pathways to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “This regional planning agency can leverage the essential services that it provides to the region - including wastewater collection and treatment services, transit services and transportation funding, water resources planning and monitoring, and land use planning - to act upon climate change issues. The Council is poised to build upon its history of environmental stewardship to pioneer new strategies to decarbonize its operations across the Twin Cities region.”
Other collaborators on the project team include Hazen (wastewater engineers), SRF Consulting (transit and transportation), Young Environmental (water resources management and social equity), representing areas which are which “are essential for the region’s climate resilient future,” Rhie adds, “Together our team brings a diversity of perspectives and bolsters Buro Happold’s capacity to deliver this plan successfully and on schedule.”