Federal Coordinating Lead Author:
Susan Julius, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Chapter Lead:
Keely Maxwell, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Chapter Authors:
Anne Grambsch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Retired)
Ann Kosmal, U.S. General Services Administration
Libby Larson, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Nancy Sonti, U.S. Forest Service
Review Editor:
Jesse Keenan, Harvard University
Technical Contributors:
Julie Blue, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
Kevin Bush, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (through August 2017)
USGCRP Coordinators:
Natalie Bennett, Adaptation and Assessment Analyst
Fredric Lipschultz, Senior Scientist and Regional Coordinator

Built Environment, Urban Systems, and Cities

Recent extreme weather events reveal the vulnerability of the built environment (infrastructure, such as residential and commercial buildings, transportation, communications, energy, water systems, parks, streets, and landscaping) and its importance to how people live, study, recreate, and work in cities. This chapter builds on previous assessments of urban social vulnerability and climate change impacts on urban systems.1,2,3 It discusses recent science on urban social and ecological systems underlying vulnerability, impacts on urban quality of life and well-being, and urban adaptation. It also reviews the increase in urban adaptation activities, including investment, design, and institutional practices to manage risk. Examples of climate impacts and responses from five cities (Charleston, South Carolina; Dubuque, Iowa; Fort Collins, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) illustrate the diversity of American cities and the climate risks they face.


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