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Windmills and solar panels at work on a sunny day.

CCRE SPECIAL EVENT: Building for Climate Change

CCRE convened a panel of thought leaders to discuss how we can meet the challenges of future home development in the face of increasing environmental challenges. Panelists included Katharine Burgess, AICP, Vice President for Land Use and Development, Smart Growth America; Nuin-Tara Key, Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, Deputy Director for Climate Resilience, and Chair of the Technical Advisory Council for the Integrated Climate Adaptation and Resiliency Program; Craig Adelman, Senior Principal, LeSar Development Consultants; and Amy Bach, United Policyholders.

Environmental pressures are increasing to avoid living in vulnerable areas because of the unrealistic risks they pose for safety and insurability. Panelists Key and Burgess discussed California legislation SB 375, that passed in 2007-2008, as a groundbreaking solution that set a standard to align land use and transportation policies to proactively address climate change effects such as increasing wildfires, drought, and more that affects existing housing. However, they said that more action is needed. All panelists agreed that there is currently a window of opportunity to reduce emissions and the overall negative impacts of climate change, which will require an all-government approach: departments of transportation, energy and housing must work together to make the right decisions to increase resilience in our communities.

Adelman and Key discussed that development under climate change impacts will also affect migration patterns domestically; while COVID-19 has already affected people’s movements, there is a need to examine how policy can encourage greater density and make it more attractive and preferred for people to reduce development pressure on areas that are a greater risk. Key and Burgess suggested that fire risk reduction standards could be taught to property owners so that structures are less likely to burn, and Bach urged the insurance industry to use its leverage to incentivize risk reduction; i.e. rewarding people for undertaking improvements that reduce risk.

All panelists agreed that housing affordability is a key driver for so much development and home purchases in the outer exurbs, which has pushed housing into more dangerous zones. At the same time, the demand for walkable urban areas far exceeds supply. Therefore, policy questions need to be answered about how to successfully deliver more affordable housing that meets environmental concerns and nudges consumers toward denser housing options.

For more information about the panel, click here.


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