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Cambridge Adopts Climate Resilience Zoning Amendment

Monday, September 25, 2023
" Earlier this year, the Cambridge City Council adopted new zoning requirements to address the impacts of increased flooding and increased heat over time as a result of climate change. "

The new requirements take an innovative, forward-looking approach to setting climate resilience standards for buildings and landscaping. These standards are based on: 

  • Models of Cambridge’s climate 50 years from now, updated on a regular basis according to scientific studies. 
  • Measures that will reduce impacts of extreme weather events. 
  • Using both requirements and incentives for property owners and developers to make their sites more resilient to benefit the future community. 
  • New standards will require buildings to be designed to protect vulnerable spaces that have a likelihood of future flooding. They will also require sites to meet a “Cool Score” by including features like shade trees, plantings, green roofs, canopies, and cool pavements. 
  • The new standards will apply to large development projects and to smaller newly-constructed buildings, but not to most renovations or minor alterations. In some cases, they will apply to finished basement space or new parking. The new zoning also makes it easier to install features like shaded porches, solar canopies, elevated steps and ramps, and usable green roofs, which promote resilience.
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