October 2021

EPA, Harvard Graduate School of Design Backing Joint Comprehensive Climate Change Study for Cape Ann Municipalities

TownGreen2025 announces the launch of a year-long, Cape Ann-based climate study in partnership with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (HGSD). This study started on September 1, 2021 and will identify unique challenges, opportunities, resources, and recommendations relevant to the four municipalities: Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Essex.

The Environmental Protection Agency selected Cape Ann for a 2021 “Building Blocks for Resilience” technical assistance program that will help identify strategies for climate resilience and federal and state funding sources, as well as develop local financing strategies for climate recommendations. Cape Ann was one of four regions in the US to receive this assistance. TownGreen 2025 raised funds to engage Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design to research and deliver a study about climate vulnerabilities across the Cape Ann region based on four case scenarios that focus on the themes of mitigation, resilience, and adaptation.

The Big Storm

This scenario will ask what will happen if we do nothing, presenting a vision of the future of Cape Ann without climate mitigation or resilience planning. In the event of a Big Storm, the study will show what happens to roads and railways; water and sewage treatment plants; residential, commercial, and industrial buildings; and natural resources.

Adaptation: Armoring Infrastructure and Managed Retreat

This scenario will evaluate the strategies of a hybrid approach to adapting coastal development on Cape Ann, combining both hard and soft protection as well as managed retreat. The study envisions the effects of armoring Cape Ann’s coast, protecting infrastructure threatened by sea level rise and inundation in both the short and long term through a combination of gray and green infrastructure. As a secondary adaptive measure, the scenario imagines a managed retreat scenario that builds on existing efforts across the country and highlights the partnerships that Cape Ann might engage to pursue this option.

Resilience: Building Net Zero to Diversify Housing

As a region, Cape Ann faces significant demand for diversified housing options to increase social equity. This scenario projects a range of housing options across Cape Ann that are accessible to a wider range of residents and proposes net-zero and green building strategies including passive design, renewable energy production, innovative construction methods, and natural landscaping. The scenario locates the optimal areas for clustered multi-unit housing, as well as retrofitting existing housing stock.

Mitigation: Waste Recovery to Energy Production

This scenario proposes a program to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases generated by solid waste decomposition and envisions strategies for converting waste streams, including wastewater, sewage sludge, and solid waste, into viable energy, nutrient, and composting resources.

The EPA and the HGSD work will be coordinated by a team of local leaders:

  • Greg Federspiel, Manchester-by-the-Sea Town Administrator;
  • Valerie Nelson, Director, Water Alliance; and
  • Dick Prouty, Co-Chair of TownGreen2025.

Response to the EPA and HGSD project:

  • “Regional cooperation will benefit all Cape Ann communities as we will be able to share information and solutions in a much more intentional manner,” says Greg Federspiel, Manchester-by-the-Sea Town Administrator.
  • “I am excited by the potential of working with EPA and HGSD to help us move forward significantly in our planning for the climate crisis,” says Candace Wheeler, Chair of the City of Gloucester Clean Energy Commission.

TownGreen2025 would like to recognize and thank:

TownGreen2025 is a Cape Ann-based volunteer-led organization that promotes climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, including clean energy, since 2015. TownGreen2025 is sponsored by the non-profit Gloucester Meetinghouse Foundation. For more information, visit www.towngreen2025.org.

Our Corporate Sponsors

Many thanks to Corporate Sponsors:
Geoffrey H. Richon Company, Resonant Energy, and Revision Energy

We are looking for financial support for this important study conducted in collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Design. There are three levels of corporate sponsorship. If you are interested, please visit our website for more information. We greatly appreciate your gift in any amount.

EPA, Harvard Graduate School of Design Backing Joint Comprehensive Climate Change Study for Cape Ann Municipalities