Climate-Smart Cities™

To become more climate resilient, cities must restore natural functions of the land by weaving green elements into the built environment. The Trust for Public Land's Climate-Smart Cities™ effort helps cities meet the climate challenge through conservation and design—from protecting waterfront parks and wetlands to creating green alleys and "water smart" playgrounds.

We focus on four aspects of greening America's cities to address climate change:

Connect—Linking walk-bike corridors at the city scale to create carbon-free transportation options for all residents.

Cool—Planting shade trees and creating new parks to lessen the urban "heat island effect" that drives increased summer energy use and worsens heat waves.

Absorb—Creating "water smart" parks and green alleys that manage storm water naturally to reduce flooding, save energy used for water treatment, and recharge drinking water supplies.

Protect—Establishing waterfront parks, wetlands, and other green shorelines to buffer low-lying cities from sea level rise, coastal storm surges, and other flood risks.

Climate-Smart Cities™ in Action

We are applying our "connect-cool-absorb-protect" strategy through a set of partnership-driven pilot projects that offer national demonstration of these principles in action at the city scale. Each of our pilots has engaged city leaders, academic institutions, and community groups in a collaborative and science-based approach that involves research, GIS mapping, and demonstration projects.

  • New York City: Green Shorelines to Protect the NYC Waterfront
    The Trust for Public Land, City of New York, Columbia University, and Drexel University are partnering to create green buffers like wetlands and waterfront parks to protect the city from future storm events. Important new research suggests that New York City's risk of coastal flooding has increased twenty-fold since 1844 thanks to one foot of sea level rise and an additional one-foot increase in flood levels from a "ten-year" storm event.
  • Los Angeles: Using Green Alleys to Cool, Absorb, and Connect the Urban Core
    The Trust for Public Land is partnering with the City of Los Angeles, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and Arizona State University to advance a "green alleys" strategy for heat island mitigation, stormwater management, and walk-bike corridors in the most concrete-bound sections of the city. These neighborhoods, which include the city's most economically impoverished areas, are at particular risk from the 4-4.5 degree Fahrenheit temperature increase projected for urban Los Angeles by the middle of this century.
  • Seattle Metro: Building Walk-Bike Networks to Connect Eastside Communities
    The Trust for Public Land is partnering with the City of Kirkland, Washington to model walk-bike network development for reduced carbon emissions. This pilot is developing an optimized system of access points and connecting greenways along Kirkland's 5.75-mile segment of the 42-mile Eastside Rail Corridor. Redevelopment of the abandoned Eastside Rail Corridor offers a pivot point for Kirkland to reduce transportation-related emissions-46 percent of the city's total-by strategically linking corporate centers, schools, and other community destinations with residential hubs. The Kirkland pilot is intended to spawn replication among communities along the entire Eastside Rail Corridor by modeling a climate-resilient approach.