Adapting to Climate Change: Small Cities, Big Challenges

Gain insight to help frame a future direction for communities seeking to build successful civic infrastructure and strategies.


In the past few years, the twin challenges of climate adaptation and mitigation and equitable communities have risen to the top of the public agenda. Cities are facing incredible challenges to plan effectively to reduce carbon emissions, adapt to climate vulnerabilities and achieve more equitable communities for all their residents. Many smaller communities are struggling to develop effective strategies that marshal resources and build momentum towards addressing these complex challenges. Northampton, Massachusetts and Dubuque, Iowa have frequently outperformed larger jurisdictions on these issues and have emerged as leading municipalities. Northampton was the first jurisdiction in the nation to achieve the coveted 5-STAR sustainability rating and has been the recipient of numerous related awards. Dubuque has similarly been recognized for its achievements with dozens of awards, including 5 All-America City Awards in just a dozen years for imaginative collaborations to address their key challenges. Their experiences provide insights to frame a future direction for other communities seeking to build the civic infrastructure and strategies that will lead to success. This session presents perspectives from city officials in each of these leading municipalities about the mechanics of planning for sustainable futures. 

Hosted by the AIA Communities by Design (CxD) program.

Learning objectives

  • Explore how to tackle climate adaptation and mitigation in small cities from project to city perspectives.
  • Apply key tools to maximize resources and support for climate efforts that improve the lives of communities.
  • Adapt practical lessons learned from small city experiences in planning for and implementing their own climate action initiatives.
  • Analyze how the intersections between climate change and equity and public participation and partnerships form a key platform for solving critical built environment issues.

This session was recorded live on May 13, 2021. Add to cart to see special pricing. 

User rating:
Average: 4.1 (77 votes)
 $45  non-member
 $30  member
1.00 LU
  • HSW
  • RIBA


  • Cori Burbach Headshot

    Cori Burbach

    Assistant City Manager | Dubuque, Iowa

    Cori Burbach was appointed assistant city manager in September 2017. As assistant city manager, she...
  • Wayne Feiden Headshot

    Wayne Feiden


    Director of Planning and Sustainability | Northampton, MA

    Wayne Feiden is Director of Planning and Sustainability for Northampton, MA and a part-time...