Working Papers

The Case for Climate-Informed Zoning

A Study of Fiscal Impact in Norfolk, VA

Katherine Burgess, Michael Rodriguez, Jordan Howard, Jared Klukas, and Megan Wright

June 2023, English

As the impacts of climate change continue to intensify, zoning presents a key tool to direct development to protect communities from climate events. Norfolk, Virginia, a city at severe risk from sea level rise due to climate change, is among the first cities in the US to use climate adaptation as a core consideration for future development.

This report examines the economic and social impact of resilience zoning in Norfolk, Virginia, which offers a cutting-edge example of climate-informed policy through the adoption of two land use plans—planNorfolk2030 to guide short-term development and Vision 2100 for long-term development. Using quantitative analysis, the Smart Growth America team explores the fiscal implications on Norfolk’s annual budget and property values. Additionally, this report includes a national scan of resilience zoning efforts, and shares recommendations to Norfolk and other cities facing flood risk seeking to address climate risk in land use policy and advance equitable climate adaptation.


Adaptation, Environmental Planning, Floodplains, Land Use, Land Use Planning, Local Government, Planning, Resilience, Smart Growth