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NIH Environmental Management System

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Climate Change Resilience

As outlined in EO 14057, Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability​, the NIH must adapt to the changing climate by acheiving climate resilient infrastructure and operations. ​This is accomplished by:

  • ​developing or revising polices and processes to promote climate resilient investment that advances adaptation to climate change and protects public health and the environment,
  • conducting climate adaptation analysis and planning for climate-informed financial and management decisions and program implementation,
  • reforming agency policies and funding programs that are maladaptive to climate change and increase the vulnerability of communities, natural or built systems, economic sectors, and natural resources to climate impacts, or related risks, and
  • developing and enhancing tools that assess climate change impacts and support climate adaptation planning and implementation.​​

To demonstrate progress in climate change resilience, NIH publishes an annual Sustainability Plan (SP) and reports progress to their parent government agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS adheres to the requirements of EO 14057 and 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, and publishes an annual Sustainability Plan to demonstrate overall agency progress.​​

Climate Change Resilience at NIH

Climate change resilience continues to be developed at the NIH to prepare for the effects that climate change will have on NIH operations and the medical community. Additional work continues to promote global health and encourage preparations for extreme weather events induced by climate change. The NIH has achieved the following accomplishments:

  • Collaborated on the Institute of Medicine - National Academies of Sciences Project: Strengthening the Disaster Resilience of Academic Biomedical Research Communities.
  • Furthered development of the data and tools on climate and health within the Climate Resilience Toolkit under the leadership of the Global Change Research Program Interagency Climate Change and Human Health Group, which is co-chaired by NIEHS.
  • Initiated the HHS Climate and Health Data Innovation Challenge, in partnership on the website​. This is a series of challenge competitions to help physicians and other health professionals, health care systems, local decision makers, and the general public understand climate change impacts. These activities also help find opportunities for health-promoting actions that also help mitigate climate change. Each challenge within the series will be designed to improve understanding of climate change’s health impacts, increase resilience to those impacts, or raise awareness of the linkages between actions that mitigate climate change and actions that improve our health.
  • NIEHS has launched the Climate Change and Environmental Exposures Challenge, which invites innovators to develop data visualization tools and/or maps that can connect current science on climate change to the exposure pathways for environmental hazards.
  • The NIH Office of Research Facilities has:
    • constructed an industrial water storage tank to support the Bethesda campus in the event of temporary water supply loss,
    • constructed a chilled water storage system reducing the number of chillers at the NIH Central Utility Plant (CUP),
    • improved management techniques for weighing refrigerants at the CUP and maintaining detailed logs of usage and loss,
    • continued to evaluate the potential for energy and GHG reductions by changing laboratory operations and facility support systems, and
    • developing a Climate Change Resilience Plan for the Bethesda campus, and collaborated with NIEHS to develop a Climate Change Resilience Plan for the NIEHS campus in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

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