Megan HoustonSpeaker: Megan Houston
Director, Office of Resilience
Palm Beach County

Megan Houston, Director, Office of Resilience, spoke to the LWV, Environmental Issues Group, on September 14, 2019. The Office of Resilience (OOR) works to ensure that Palm Beach County remains a great place to live, work, and play while addressing the effects of climate change. It is increasingly important to adapt to climate change, mitigate impacts, and develop sustainability. Megan and her staff of two study sea-level rise projections and provides guidance to county planners, along with compiling and advising departments on sustainability measures.

The OOR is responsible for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation includes: planning for sea-level rise, increasing county operations resiliency, planning for stormwater management needs and changes. Mitigation includes: measuring greenhouse gases, promoting electric vehicles, and assessing renewable energy opportunities.

The OOR also focuses on resilience and sustainability in county capital projects, including the Palm Beach County Resiliency Action Plan, cross-departmental teams, and the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (a four-county group to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines). The OOR also interfaces with the Palm Beach County Coastal Resilience Partnership (CRP) to take a coordinated approach to planning for sea-level rise and coastal resilience efforts.

Megan explained the “Greenhouse Effect” and how greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the atmosphere: Sunlight reaches the earth, some energy is reflected back into space, some is absorbed and re-radiated as heat, most of the heat is absorbed by greenhouse gases and reflected in all directions, warming the earth. The result for Palm Beach County is an expected Sea Level Rise of 2-3 feet by 2060 and 5-7 feet by 2100.

Megan stated that we are already experiencing an extreme heat threat. The “feels like” temperature can be 10 degrees higher than the actual temperature. The “feels like” temperature is a measurement of how hot it really feels like outside. It relies on environmental data including the ambient air temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed to determine how weather conditions feel to bare skin.

What You Can Do?

The community can help by staying informed, empowered, and engaged. You can practice a more sustainable lifestyle by carpooling, avoid drive-thru lanes (idling), take public transit, ride a bike, repair and reuse, go plastic-free, eat more plants, buy local produce, switch to LED bulbs, install energy star appliances, practice Florida friendly landscaping.

Kathy Panko, Environmental Issues Group
September 15, 2019

Source: Megan Houston, Director, PBC Office of Resilience
Presentation: September 14, 2019