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Focus Area

Transforming Key Urban Systems

We work to transform key urban infrastructure with critical climate implications, focusing on energy and water systems.

Climate change requires that U.S. cities change the way they approach managing energy and water systems. Both are critical to urban residents’ health, safety and quality of life.

Carbon-Neutral Energy Systems
A growing number of cities are committed to transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy in buildings, transportation and other urban systems. We seek to help cities transition to carbon neutrality in ways that enhance equity and reflect the needs, priorities and knowledge of low-income communities and communities of color.

Climate-Resilient and Equitable Water Systems (CREWS) Initiative
Climate change directly impacts water supply, and flooding is a major concern for urban communities. Changes in precipitation are placing stress on the built and natural systems that provide fresh water, manage stormwater and treat wastewater. Degraded water quality poses disproportionate threats to public health and flooding results in destruction of homes and property. We seek to advance an equity agenda that provides solutions to climate-related floods and the impacts of severe storms on water systems.

How We Work

Within this focus area, we deploy a blend of grants, social investments and market-rate investments to advance desired outcomes for energy and water systems.

We work to:

  • Strengthen the evidence base and develop the tools needed for equitable energy system transformation with a focus on community benefit.
  • Connect urban leaders with information and peers.
  • Test new models for deployment of solar panels paired with energy storage systems in low-income communities.
  • Promote a framework for addressing climate change and equity in the water sector.
  • Support and nurture a new cadre of water leaders to amplify marginalized voices and strengthen climate-vulnerable regions and water systems.
  • Advance nontraditional approaches to finance, operations and community participation in utility decision-making that produce multiple community benefits.