Regional framework for coastline resilience in Southern Connecticut

Client Name
The Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation
Connecticut, USA


The Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation engaged SLR to advance resilience concepts and designs across ten shoreline municipalities from Fairfield to Madison, Connecticut. This project, which utilized Hurricane Sandy appropriations to advance resilience concepts, included a planning phase, a design phase and the development of a Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) tool for the state of Connecticut.


SLR initiated the project with a planning phase that focused on the challenge of re-casting grey and “hard” costal resilience projects into green infrastructure with a living shoreline and hybrid grey/green projects. This involved field assessments along the coastline of Connecticut, the review and selection of sea level rise projections, risk characterization studies and a full redevelopment of resilience design criteria.

In the design phase, SLR worked with municipal planning agencies and provided a conceptual design for one resilience project for each of the ten municipalities.

With all of the cumulative information that had been gathered, SLR’s GIS team designed and developed CCVI to help the state meet the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) goals and inform policy, planning and future funding decisions.

The initial phase of the GIS modeling exercise was to divide the state into roughly 340,000 10-acre grid cells. This granular approach created the opportunity for vulnerability analysis at the neighborhood and, sometimes, building level. Each grid cell received an index “score” based on the analysis of 30-50 different input data sources. Examples of targeted input data include distances to a healthcare facility or cooling center, elevation pooling, percent impervious surface area, percent tree cover, flood zones, asthma rates, and building density. Additional data was accessed via US Census and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric), as well as crafted through custom analytical methodologies.


The state of Connecticut could confidently say that it had drastically improved its resilience planning, armed with more information and visual understanding of where areas in the state are the most susceptible to the effect of natural disasters and the impacts of climate change. Each town has actionable items to start working towards to support coastline resilience.

Upon completion of this project CIRCA presented the CCVI tool to local, regional and government stakeholders, which will help guide investment in infrastructure and development.