Do YOU live in the Cambridge Flood Zone?

The City of Cambridge has a Flood Viewer that allows anyone to assess Climate Change effects from flooding and how to prepare for it. There are several currently developed properties near Alewife Station that would experience flooding of more than four feet above ground level in a current 100-year storm. A future 100-year flood event would be eight feet higher than ground level. See the Flood Viewer here:


The Cost of Urban Resilience

A recent report co-authored by Greg Kats and Keith Glassbrook, Delivering Urban Resilience stresses that preparing NOW for Climate changes could actually be a cost-effective design solution that could save millions, and even billions, of dollars for communities.

They looked at the ecological and financial advantages that would come from promoting so-called “smart surfaces,” such as green roofs, solar panels, and permeable and porous pavement, in urban areas. Adding these features would lower excess heat and improve water quality and stormwater management, all costly environmental issues exacerbated by climate change.  

Now the first time, researchers assembled an integrated cost-benefit analysis for these strategies using insight from city partners, epidemiologists, and tech and energy experts and suggest these adaptations should be seen less as a good idea and more as a necessary, and prudent, investment.


Read the City’s Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Plan (CCPR)

Cambridge's Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Alewife Preparedness Plan recommend strategies for projected climate change extreme events and, in the process, to enhance the well-being of the whole community.

Alewife was selected for the first neighborhood plan because it is an area within Cambridge that is most exposed to flooding and extreme heat.  It is experiencing rapid growth and re-development, which provides opportunities to program early actions and do the “right things.”

The City’s CCVA identified the high priority assets, services, and areas that are predicted to be most at-risk from climate change impacts, assuming no actions are taken toward preparedness or resiliency. Alewife includes the following properties, services, and infrastructure most at risk:

  • More than 400 affordable housing units in four locations at risk of flooding as early as 2030
  • The City’s Emergency Operation Center
  • The North Cambridge electric substation
  • Key elements of the City’s transportation system all at risk of flooding:
    • Alewife MBTA subway station with as many as 5,000 weekday entries;
    • Fresh Pond Parkway and Route 60 that exceed 30,000 average daily trips in 24 hours;
    • Three of the busiest intersections in the City at Massachusetts Avenue, Route 2, and Concord Avenue.    

The Cambridge Climate Safety Petition addresses 2 of the 4 categories;  Prepared Community, Adapted Buildings, Resilient Infrastructure, and Resilient Ecosystems (page 38)

  • Adapted Buildings will be critical in developing resilient households and businesses. ...revised heat resiliency design guidelines for new buildings ..... Raising buildings’ first floors and elevating utilities.....Developing and incentivizing programs, such as weatherization, installing solar panels, painting roofs white, relocating utilities to higher elevation, and installing backwater valves, will also provide buildings’ resiliency to both heat and flooding.
  • Resilient Ecosystems include green infrastructure, such as bioretention basins, green roofs, and porous pavement, in the Alewife area.... Increasing the tree canopy in Alewife...resilient ecosystems will enhance stormwater management, improve water quality, and reduce the UHI effect.

The Alewife Preparedness Plan is the first step toward developing the City’s comprehensive CCPR Plan. Next steps will include considering options for broader climate change risks, quantification of cost and economic opportunities, and a continued robust stakeholder engagement process


  • It is crucial to underscore the importance of incorporating stakeholder input in developing and implementing resiliency strategies. The stakeholder engagement process that has been established as part of the CCPR Plan supports this purpose. Cambridge’s residents, business associations, and regional and local organizations have provided input in defining the vision, framework, and strategies. 

Read the entire report here


Cambridge Chronicle: Affordable housing vs. livable communities: A false dichotomy

Cambridge Chronicle April 18, 2018 (PDF)