Reprinted with minimal edits with permission from the DoD Cultural Resources Update Summer 2023
Climate change poses great challenges for cultural resources, such as historic buildings and archaeological sites. Cultural resources are vulnerable to climate impacts including fire; inundation, deterioration, and destruction from sea-level rise; and storm-related flooding and erosion. EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc. developed a Climate Adaptation Guide for the diverse cultural resources located on military installations within the United States with funding provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) Legacy Resource Management Program (Legacy Program). The goal of the document is to provide guidance on identifying appropriate adaptation strategies and integrating these strategies into DoD installation Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plans. These recommendations can also be useful for other organizations managing cultural resources impacted by climate change, not just DoD.
In this growing climate crisis, A Guide to Incorporating Climate Considerations into Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plans (Legacy Project CR-20-002) has recommendations for DoD cultural resources managers that are twofold.
First, using historic buildings is encouraged to reduce carbon emissions. Approximately 38% of global greenhouse gases are produced by the construction and operation of buildings. In the same way people recycle aluminum cans, newsprint, and bottles, they can reuse existing buildings whenever possible. The environmental value of reusing historic buildings is far better for the planet than demolition and new construction. As the saying goes, “The greenest building is the one that is already built.”
Second, due to the threats of climate change, installations should prepare for worsening climate impacts and take steps to make climate resilience a priority. Over the next century, sea-level rise may endanger coastal military installations around the Nation. Mission-necessary infrastructure could be damaged by flooding, severe storms, and fire. Historic resources must also be prepared for these worsening climate impacts.
Climate change is no longer a distant threat. Its impacts are already occurring, with serious and growing risks to the installations necessary to support the military mission. DoD Directive 4715.21, Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience (2016), requires that all operations, planning activities, business processes, and resource allocation decisions include climate change considerations. The built infrastructure required to support the military mission on DoD installations is extensive, and many of these facilities are historic. DoD’s Cultural Resources Programs are designed to support the military’s combat readiness mission while maintaining the long-term sustainability of its historic properties. Therefore, cultural resource management needs to adapt to the broad range of climate-related changes to protect historic properties.
The DoD Legacy Program funded this project to develop guidance on strategies and procedures for managing and protecting cultural resources from impacts associated with climatic changes. 1 The guidance document presents one methodology for considering potential ways to improve resiliency for cultural resources and integrating climate change risks into cultural resources management. Information in the guidance document is presented in two parts.
Part I includes:
- an overview of climate risks to military installations and missions
- climate change and cultural resources management requirements
- an introduction on climate change and adaptation
- sources of adaptation-related information
- a summary of climate and adaptation considerations for individual Integrated Cultural Resources Management Plan (ICRMP) program elements
This guide also presents potential options for integrating these climate adaptation strategies into the ICRMP.
Part II offers a step-by-step method for carrying out the climate adaptation planning process and integrating the outcomes into the ICRMP. The appendices in this guidance document provide additional sources of adaptation-related information and a set of detailed worksheets that support installation-level climate adaptation planning and ICRMP integration.
The guide and its fact sheet are available at:
For more information, contact:
1 (Disclaimer: Any findings or recommendations of this report are those of the principal investigator and contributors. This guidance document does not represent official policy, position, or opinions of the Department of Defense. This report should not be construed as official DoD policy or position unless so designated through other issuances.)
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