Model Climate Element Pilot

The Growth Management Act (GMA) is state legislation that promotes responsible urban growth and requires local governments to develop and maintain comprehensive plans. In 2023, climate planning was added to the GMA, directing jurisdictions to include goals and polices to improve climate preparedness, response and recovery efforts, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cascadia, along with our partners at BERK, led a pilot program with the Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce) to develop and test tools designed to assist local governments with integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation policy into their comprehensive plans. This guidance includes key considerations such as maximizing the co-benefits of environmental justice and addressing community priorities.

The pilot jurisdictions included in this study represent a diversity in geography, population size, type of climate risks faced, and experience with climate planning—which helped test the usability of these tools across a wide range of planning contexts. The results of this essential test run will be used to optimize available tools, ensure they are useful and effective, and importantly, build relationships between Commerce and the local communities responsible for implementing the climate element.

We’re also excited to see local governments already taking steps to incorporate climate into their comprehensive plans. Cascadia worked with several cities including Kenmore, Federal Way, Lake Stevens, and Woodinville on developing either standalone climate elements or integrating climate policies throughout their comprehensive plans. Our simultaneous work on these projects gave us the unique opportunity to identify gaps and opportunities with integrating climate resilience and mitigation into comprehensive plans and align local strategies with upcoming statewide regulations. This work represents a critical step our region has taken to reduce and prepare for climate change driven impacts.

View Commerce's Guidance: Model Climate Element


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