Climate-Smart Cities™–New Orleans

la_biglaketrail_01122013_057.jpgVisitors enjoy a walk along the Big Lake Trail in City Park, New OrleansPhoto credit: Andy Isaacson

Few American cities are more vulnerable to climate change-related flooding, heat, and storms than New Orleans. So it makes sense that city leaders are setting ambitious goals for developing green infrastructure to keep the city cool, absorb stormwater runoff, and shield homes, streets, and businesses from flooding. The Trust for Public Land’s Climate-Smart Cities team is working with public agencies, neighborhoods, funders, and researchers to help New Orleans develop green infrastructure where it’s needed most.

We’re developing a GIS-driven tool to help planners prioritize projects—from building swales and stormwater catchment basins to planting trees and restoring wetlands. The tool combines geographic data about climate-related threats like flooding with data on public health, income, and neighborhood access to green space.

The Trust for Public Land also teamed up with the students and teachers at the Paul Habans Charter to create a green schoolyard. Before the redesign, any rainstorm would inundate their concrete playground and flood the property so kids had to stay inside during recess, now native plants and vegetation in its rain gardens collect rainfall and reduce water run-off. Through our participatory design process, the students helped design their dream schoolyard, a much-needed facility in a neighborhood that lacks safe access to green space. With all new play equipment and a space that’s responsive to our changing climate — students at Paul Habans have a safe, green space to learn and play.

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Since 1972, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than 3.3 million acres and completed more than 5,400 park and conservation projects.