News Release: APA Receives $300K NOAA Grant to Help Communities Address Climate Extremes

CHICAGO — The American Planning Association (APA) received a $300,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office to assist communities in addressing potential climate extremes such as high precipitation in a short period of time or extreme drought. APA will work on the two-year contract with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and climatologists from the University of Illinois and the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Consortium.

The project, “Incorporating Local Science to Help Communities Plan for Climate Extremes” will help communities in the Great Lakes region incorporate available climate data into comprehensive and capital improvement plans. Very few communities currently use climate data as a way to prepare for potential consequences experienced from extreme climate events.

“Communities can better prepare themselves to weather the flux of climate extremes that are becoming more frequent,” said James C. Schwab, FAICP, manager of APA Hazards Planning Center. “Knowing how to incorporate and use climate data in planning initiatives will make communities more resilient to disasters, speed up the recovery from such disasters, and reduce the economic impact of such disasters.”

The core of the research project will focus on five Chicago-metropolitan pilot communities. Planners and climatologists will work with the pilot communities to incorporate climate data into planning efforts, identify trustworthy climate resources and create guidelines that other communities can utilize. The City of Berwyn and the Village of Richton Park are two of the five pilot communities. The final three pilot communities will be identified by mid-September.

“Enhancing our region's resilience to climate change will be an important emphasis of the ON TO 2050 comprehensive plan now in development,” said Joseph C. Szabo, executive director of CMAP.  “Our agency's Local Technical Assistance (LTA) program has helped well over 100 communities implement recommendations of the prior regional plan since it was adopted in 2010.  This partnership with APA will help CMAP build important new capabilities at the local level.”

CMAP will assist APA in selecting and providing technical assistance to the five pilot communities as well as in helping write the technical guides that will result from this work. This is the first time APA and CMAP have partnered on an extensive research project.

Non-coastal communities can also experience devastation from extreme weather events. Higher than normal precipitation can lead to urban flooding and overtax existing stormwater infrastructure. Communities can also suffer from prolonged drought events.

At conclusion of the research project, free online resources for identifying trustworthy climate data sources and incorporating climate data will be available. Finally, training modules will be available for other non-coastal communities to learn how they can use climate data.

The climate extremes research project is being managed by APA’s Hazards Planning Research Center, one of APA’s National Centers for Planning. The center advances best practices that promote resilience by reducing the impact of natural hazards on communities and regions. This is the second NOAA grant APA has received in 2016. The other research project, “Building Coastal Resilience through Capital Improvement Planning,” was announced in February.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, with almost 40,000 members worldwide in nearly 100 countries.

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is the official comprehensive planning organization for northeastern Illinois. The agency and its partners are developing ON TO 2050, a new long-range plan that — when adopted in October 2018 — will help the region’s seven counties and 284 communities implement strategies that address transportation, housing, economic development, open space, the environment, and other quality-of-life issues. Read more at

# # #


Roberta Rewers, APA, 312-786-6395;

Tom Garritano, CMAP, 312-386-8609;

August 24, 2016