Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) – University of Massachusetts Boston

Charrette at first Sustainable Solutions Lab Symposium on Social Equity and Climate Change

The challenge: As Boston and communities throughout the world face the urgent need to strengthen their resiliency to the effects of climate, they cannot overlook the challenge of socioeconomic inequity. Many of the neighborhoods most threatened by changing climate are also the most economically challenged and socially marginalized. What will make cities truly resilient is not buildings and barriers, but empowered citizens in vibrant and equitable economies.

SSL’s mission is to work as an engine of research and action to ensure that all residents of Greater Boston, and cities across the world, are prepared equitably for the impacts of climate change, by:

  • Identifying, developing, and testing new strategies and best practices locally and globally
  • Convening and activating a network of diverse, committed, action-oriented leaders

SSL leverages Greater Boston and the East Coast region as a “test bed” for the development, testing, and implementation of climate solutions that are environmentally sound, economically sustainable, and socially just.

See also:

Report Finds Mix of Public and Private Funding Needed

UMass Boston’s Sustainable Solutions Lab (SSL) released a report today with recommendations on how to finance solutions to one of the most pressing issues facing the Boston region, and the world, today: climate change.

“It’s important to point out the high costs of inaction,” said David Levy, lead author of Financing Climate Resilience: Mobilizing Resources and Incentives to Protect Boston from Climate Risks. “We need to invest a lot of money, but it will have large benefits and offers the potential to transform the region into a model of sustainability, resiliency, and prosperity, and revitalize neighborhoods with improved housing and transportation.”

“We know that climate change will disproportionately impact low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, so any successful approach to climate adaptation should keep these communities front and center,” said Rebecca Herst, director of the Sustainable Solutions Lab. “As we have the hard conversations about how and where investments are made, we need to ensure that we aren’t amplifying inequities that already exist.”

Levy and the SSL team say both private and public sources of funding need to be leveraged at the federal, state, municipal, and district levels. They suggest funding could come in the form of a statewide carbon tax, a tightened Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap, and/or a 5-cent gasoline tax increase. The authors estimate that the latter item alone could generate more than $156 million a year. Should a statewide carbon tax be enacted –there are currently two legislative efforts to do so – Massachusetts would be the first state to have one.

Other recommendations outlined in the report include the creation of a Climate Resilience Finance Implementation Working Group for the Boston metro area, the establishment of a state-level Climate Resilience Fund, and the expansion of the Mass Save program to incentivize building climate resilience improvements.

“There is no single simple financial solution for climate resilience,” said Levy, a professor of management at UMass Boston who directs the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and Regional Competitiveness.

Recent history shows the need for financing climate adaptation in the City of Boston is great. Just this year, parts of Boston were flooded when two winter storms produced storm-surge of nearly 3 feet. Major storms can disrupt power, transportation, communications, and supply chains, leading to lengthy recovery times and long-term economic impacts for residents and businesses, Levy and his coauthors write. FEMA data indicates about 40 percent of small businesses never open their doors after a disaster, and another 25 percent fail within a year.

The full Financing Climate Resilience Report is available on the Sustainable Solutions Lab’s website.

The Sustainable Solutions Lab report is sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission with generous support from the Barr Foundation.

About UMass Boston
The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city’s history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve more than 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit

Tags: climate change , climate resilience , sustainable solutions lab



Sustainable Solutions Lab



Financing Climate Resilience: Mobilizing Resources and Incentives to Protect Boston from Climate Risks

This report, sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission with the generous support of the Barr Foundation, looks at different financial mechanisms for climate resilience. It provides recommendations for the City of Boston and the region on how to pay for climate adaptation investments.

Feasibility of Harbor-wide Barrier Systems: Preliminary Analysis for Boston Harbor

This report, sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission with the generous support of the Barr Foundation, looks at the feasibility of a Harbor-wide Barrier to protect the Boston Harbor from storm-surge and sea level rise. It will be released on May 29, 2018

Governance and Climate Adaptation

This report, sponsored by the Boston Green Ribbon Commission with the generous support of the Barr Foundation, looks at the governance challenges that climate change presents for Boston and the Greater Boston region. It provides recommendations for how to adapt policies and governing institutions in the face of a changing climate. This report will be released in June, 2018.


Climate Adaptation Forum

A quarterly series of half-day Climate Adaptation Forums organized by the Environmental Business Council of New England and the University of Massachusetts Boston – Sustainable Solutions Lab. These sessions provide cutting-edge thought leadership on adaptation to climate change for environmental and energy professionals, policy makers, municipal officials, NGOs, and practitioners.

Sustainable Solutions Lab

100 Morrissey Blvd.

Boston, MA 02125

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s