A Plan for Every Corner of Our Region

By Christa Kraftician & Bahareh van Boekhold

Posted August 12, 2020

Green Building United is a regional organization that spans ten counties and two states. To ensure that we are responsive to local conditions and needs, Green Building United has two active geographic Communities within our membership - the Lehigh Valley and Delaware Communities. 

Each of these Communities is exemplifying their commitment to ensuring that Green Building United is fulfilling its mission and vision in every corner of our region by actively participating in climate action planning processes in the City of Bethlehem and in the State of Delaware. 

Below we summarize how our Lehigh Valley and Delaware Communities are contributing to proactive strategies to combat and adapt to climate change where they live and work and how you can get involved. 

Bethlehem Climate Action Plan
Lehigh Valley Community 

“The City of Bethlehem is committed to fighting global climate change. The City is developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP), which will serve as the City’s comprehensive strategy for addressing climate change in Bethlehem and will identify targeted policies, programs, and projects that will both mitigate Bethlehem’s contribution to climate change and help the city adapt to the effects of a changing climate. The plan will include actions and goals for both municipal operations and the community as a whole. In this way, City government will continue to lead by example while all Bethlehem residents and businesses will play a role in helping the community prevent and prepare for the effects of climate change.The plan will be developed with public and stakeholder input throughout 2020, and there will be multiple opportunities to contribute.”


Why does Bethlehem need a climate action plan?

  • Pennsylvania is expected to experience temperature increases, including more days with temperatures above 90 degrees, and an increase in the strength and duration or storm events

    • Populations already vulnerable to the health impacts of high heat and flooding are most at-risk 

  • Residential, commercial, and institutional building energy use contributes to nearly 50 percent of electricity and natural gas use emissions within the city limits 

    • Solutions to reduce energy use through efficiency and clean energy supply will have an outsized impact on Bethlehem meeting its climate goals

  • Climate change solutions benefit communities beyond just the environment

    • Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan also explores the social and economic benefits of climate action

bethlehem climate action plan

Our Community’s Role

As a membership organization, Green Building United was invited to serve on a stakeholder working group to help inform the planning process. The Chair of the Lehigh Valley Community, Christa Kraftician, and GBU’s Policy and Programs Director, Katie Bartolotta, participated in a full stakeholder meeting in April and we will continue participating through a residential and commercial building sub-working group. 


"The landscape of Bethlehem has changed tremendously over the last years. The city has experienced flooding from downpours as well as an increase in asthma and allergy cases. A thoughtful climate action plan can prepare the city for the future and increase the livability for its citizens."  

- Christa Kraftician, LV Community Chair

Get Involved

Two remote, public meetings were held on June 17 and the presentation slides, transcript (in English and Spanish), and audio are available online. Additional public meetings will be held on October 7 and a community survey is open online. Any additional ideas or suggestions can be sent to the climate action plan development team. 

The Lehigh Valley Community of Green Building United is a great place to keep up with Bethlehem’s climate action planning process as well as the latest in green building education and state and local advocacy efforts. Visit their page to learn more and get engaged!

Delaware Climate Action Plan
Delaware Community 

“Over the course of 2020, the State of Delaware will be engaging residents and businesses to shape a Climate Action Plan. The Plan aims at minimizing the greenhouse gas emissions that drive the climate change we see today and maximizing our resilience to the climate impacts we’re already experiencing. Through a participatory planning process, the State will be working to create a Plan that ensures a future for Delaware where individuals, businesses, communities, and institutions can deal with extreme weather, harness clean energy, breathe fresh air, and live healthier lives.”


Why does Delaware need a climate action plan?

From Delaware's Climate Action Plan One-Pager: 

  • Energy cost will increase for homeowners, businesses, and communities

    • “With the projected increase in temperatures, energy demand for cooling is expected to increase between 35-70 percent by mid-century"

  • Agriculture and tourism, both billion dollar industries in Delaware, are impacted by the effects of climate change

    • “Climate change can disrupt farming through crop losses, reduced yields, flood damage to facilities, delays in planting, and harm to soil and groundwater quality."

    • “Sea level rise could inundate beaches, coastal businesses, and the infrastructure that serves tourists and residents."

  • And most importantly Delawareans want climate action 

    • 70 percent of Delawareans polled agreed that we should take immediate action to reduce the impacts of climate change

Our Community’s Role

As a membership organization, Green Building United was invited to participate in a Technical Advisory workshop to help inform the planning process. Co-Chair of the Delaware Community, Bahareh van Boekhold, and Board Member, Amy Cornelius, participated in the March 3 workshop. A summary of the technical advisory workshop may be found here

"The building sector plays a critical role in a Climate Action Plan.  Building operation and construction account for a large share of our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions.  It is important to remember in our GHG pie chart, a large portion of electricity and industry (for materials like concrete) are associated with buildings.  At the same time, the building sector offers the greatest potential to address climate mitigation and adaptation simultaneously. Delaware has the advantage of policy tools for the building sector to lead on climate action.

This is an exciting time for Delaware as the state’s Climate Action Plan would ensure Delaware reaps the benefits of an emerging clean economy and protecting its residents while creating clean energy jobs."

- Bahareh van Boekhold, DE Community Co-Chair

Get Involved

Missed the in-person meetings this spring? Catch up on the workshop summary here

If you want your voice to be heard, start by providing your input online and consider attending the next public meeting this fall. 

The Delaware Community of Green Building United is a great place to keep up with Delaware’s climate action planning process as well as the latest in green building education and state and local advocacy efforts. Visit their page to learn more and get engaged!

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