Climate Change Resilience Plan

The City of Rochester’s Office of Energy and Sustainability is creating a community-wide Climate Change Resilience Plan to better prepare our community to adapt to climate change impacts. Please review the Draft Climate Change Resilience Plan here and email your feedback by November 25, 2019. We look forward to hearing from you!

This Climate Change Resiliency Plan (CCRP) has been supported in part by the New York State Climate Smart Communities Grant Program, Title 15 of the Environmental Protection Fund. 

Why are we working on a Climate Change Resilience Plan?  

Rochester’s climate is changing. Over the next 50 years, Rochester will see:                                                

  • Warmer winters and hotter summers
  • More days over 90°F, and longer heatwaves annually
  • More rainy days
  • Two to three times more frequent extreme storms

Climate change impacts can put the health and well-being of many people living in our city, especially vulnerable populations, at risk and can worsen issues around equity and accessibility.

Potential climate change impacts from increased temperature days and duration include:

  • More heat can lead to poor air quality such as high levels of pollen and pollutants. This may worsen rates of asthma, allergies and respiratory illnesses.
  • Cities are hotter than rural areas because things like roads, buildings, and parking lots absorb and hold heat. This "urban heat island" effect can lead to increased heat exhaustion and respiratory illnesses.
  • More heat can increase the need for AC in homes and public spaces, which uses lots of energy.
  • More heat can expand the range and seasonal activity period of ticks, which may increase Lyme disease.

Potential climate change impacts from extreme storms and changing frequency/intensity of precipitation include:

  • More rain can lead to flooding or water damage. This can increase mold issues in homes and buildings, which worsens respiratory illnesses.
  • Storm/flood water damage in homes could lead to residents facing high repair costs.
  • More rain and raising water levels can erode the shoreline along Lake Ontario, and cause severe flash flooding events. This can cause the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • More rain can cause the single sewer system that collects and transports storm water, sewage and industrial wastewater to overflow and contaminate water bodies. This can impact water quality, restrict recreational use like swimming and fishing, and have negative impacts on wildlife.
  • More rain storms can wash sediment and contaminants into water bodies and lead to water quality issues.
  • Fallen trees after storms can block cars and buses, or take down power lines. This would lead to the inability to commute to work or access public services.
  • Frequent and drastic changes in winter temperatures can lead to more damage to roads and bridges, such as potholes

Vulnerable populations like seniors, youth, and individuals with disabilities or language barriers may be disproportionately affected by these climate change impacts. They are the most likely to be unable to access transportation or evacuation routes, understand or receive warnings of impending danger, and to recover from disruption or damage.

Resilience reflects the ability of our community to withstand and adapt to the pressures of climate change. The Climate Change Resilience Plan will enhance the City’s ability to react to difficult events by getting stronger instead of breaking down. The Climate Change Resilience Plan will guide decision-making toward a sustainable future for the entire Rochester community, will support the resiliency and climate adaptation components of the community-wide City of Rochester Climate Action Plan (published in 2017), and will build on key findings from the Climate Vulnerability Assessment (completed in Fall 2018) to recommend implementation actions to help our city and community prepare for climate change impacts. The Climate Change Resilience Plan is partially funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Communities Grant program.

Community Outreach

  • The City held two technical advisory committee (TAC) workshops on March 21 and May 20, 2019. The TAC is comprised of technical experts and representatives from various stakeholder groups to help inform the draft Climate Change Resilience Plan. A third TAC workshop will be held in fall 2019.
  • We held workshops throughout the summer to gather community feedback on the draft goals and strategies for the plan
  • Want to lead your own workshop (Meeting in a box)? If you'd like to lead a Meeting in a box in your community, please email Andre Primus, our consultant at Highland Planning, at andre@highland-planning.com. We developed a Meeting in a box toolkit including a webinar and instructions (PDF) to help you lead your meeting and submit your group's feedback to us.
  • A Public Open House was held on Tuesday, October 29, 2019 (5-7pm) for an opportunity to review and comment on the draft Climate Change Resilience Plan. 

For more details, please see Frequently Asked Questions. Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to get involved in the Climate Change Resilience Plan and share your feedback as we work together to build a more sustainable and resilient city. 

Questions? 

Please email  Shalini Beath, Energy and Sustainability Analyst at the Office of Energy and Sustainability if you have additional questions.