Climate-Smart Federal Facilities Reduce our Fiscal Exposure to the Effects of Climate Change

For the first time, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is requiring federal agencies to consider the effects of climate change on the construction and maintenance of federal facilities. The new requirement is described in Circular A-11 for FY 2017, which is essentially a playbook for budgeting that is released each year. The circular includes an explicit requirement that funding requests align with the administration's climate preparedness and resiliency goals. Specifically, federal agencies proposing construction or renovation of federal facilities must comply with Executive Order 136563, "Preparing the US for the Impacts of Climate Change" and be consistent with agency-approved Climate Adaptation Plans.

According to Ali Zaidia, the Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy and Science at OMB, making federal facilities climate-smart reduces our fiscal exposure to the effects of climate change, which is the "right thing to do to return the highest value to the American taxpayer." Making federal facilities more resilient today, can reduce or avoid future costs that may arise due to climate change.

And the climate is changing. The 14 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century. For parts of the US, studies indicate flooding has increased in frequency and severity. Further, a significant majority of the largest wildfires in US history have occurred in just this past decade. Thus, incorporating climate resiliency into the construction of federal facilities is essential for ensuing taxpayers get the most out of for what they are paying.

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