In order to remain healthy, vibrant, safe and economically competitive, America’s counties must be able to anticipate and adapt to all types of change.  Through the Resilient Counties initiative, NACo works with counties and their stakeholders to bolster their ability to thrive amid changing physical, environmental, social and economic conditions.

Hurricanes, wildfires, economic collapse, and other disasters can be natural or man-made, acute or long-term, foreseeable or unpredictable.  Preparation for and recovery from such events requires both long-term planning and immediate action.  

NACo works to strengthen county resiliency by building leadership capacity to identify and manage risk, and allow counties to become more flexible and responsive.  Through the use of sustainable practices and infrastructure, counties will be better prepared to address these issues in a manner that can minimize the impact on local residents and businesses, while helping counties save money.

​Through the initiative, NACo:

•  Develops strategies to foster economic growth and competitiveness, 
•  Educates counties on techniques for implementing resiliency and sustainability strategies,
•  Provides tools for counties to educate their communities on resiliency initiatives, 
•  Identifies ways to leverage changing conditions and take advantage of new technologies and innovation, and 
•  Facilitates an open exchange with the private sector

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Initiative Activities

Within this initiative, NACo is sponsoring trainings, peer networking and resource development to support county leaders and other public- and private-s​ector partners seeking to build county resilience. These include:

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Initiative Resources

Below please find presentations delivered at the December 2013 Resilient Counties forum. Click on each speaker’s name to view the presentation.​  View the full forum program here.

Lessons from County Leaders: Partnering to Confront Change

​A panel of county leaders discussed how their communities responded to significant local disasters and the steps they are taking to mitigate potential future disasters, with a particular focus on local and regional partnerships to maintain and improve county operations during times of crisis.

Leveraging Technology Tools to Prepare for Threats

New technologies, innovative mapping tools, mobile applications, social media and other tech resources can revolutionize how counties prepare for and recover from crisis situations. A panel of experts highlighted innovative tools available to counties.

  • Lori Cary-Kothera, Operations Manager  – Science and Geospatial Solutions Division, NOAA Coastal Services Center
  • Jason Hutchens, Solution Sales Engagement Manager – Public Safety (Central Region), Motorola Solutions
  • Rob Welton​, National Business Manager – Enterprise Security, Siemens.  
  • Moderator: Lauren Alexander Augustine, Director – Office of Special Projects on Risk, Resilience, and Extreme Events, National Academy of Sciences

Local Philanthropic, Business and Economic Development Engagement in Recovery Efforts​

The philanthropic community, local business leaders and economic development professionals can play a key role in fostering county resilience. Experienced community leaders described how their organizations have partnered with public- and private-sector leaders in recovery efforts.  View the presentations​.

  • Les Garner, President and CEO, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
  • Karla Twedt-Ball, Vice President for Programs, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation 
  • Robin Barnes, Executive Vice President and COO, Greater New Orleans, Inc.
  • Lon Olejniczak, Senior Vice President, TransAmerica 
  • Cindy Dietz, Director of Corporate Communications, Rockwell Collins
  • Moderator: Gerald McSwiggan, Director of Issue Networks, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Business Civic Leadership Center
Partnership Exercise: Use the chart to map out your network of local partners in various sectors.

“Pervasive Readiness: Pipedream or Possible?” (chapter co-authored by Jason Hutchens, found in McGraw-Hill Homeland Security Handbook: Strategic Guidance for a Coordinated Approach to Effective Security and Emergency Management, Second Edition). Outlines significant lessons learned, best practices, and feasible approaches towards achieving a sustainable state of pervasive readiness.

"A Safe and Integrated City" (article by Rob Welton, Siemens): This paper explores ways that city leaders can work towards the goal of a safe, integrated city and options for financing safety and security technologies for their city.

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Sustainable Ports: Strategies for Port Development and Operations

June 2014

This issue brief explores the vital role that ports play in counties across the U.S., and what steps counties can take to ensure that they minimize their ports’ environmental impact while remaining competitive in local and global commercial activities. Case studies highlight innovative work that counties are already doing, and offer ideas and additional resources to support counties in promoting more efficient and sustainable port development.

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Understanding the Smart Grid: A Guide for County Leaders

February 2014

In February of 2014, the National Association of Counties released an issue brief on the role that counties can play in advancing energy technology through the adoption of and investment in smart grid technologies.​

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Energy Efficient County Buildings

January 2013
In May of 2012, the National Association of Counties and the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) launched a study to learn more about how counties use energy in their buildings.

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The County Sustainability Team

October 2012

A poster which visually demonstrates the various departments within county government that are influencing s​ustainability to better their communities. Hard co​pies of the poster are available upon request​.

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2012 Emerging Sustainability Strategies in America’s Counties

October 2012

NACo's Green Government Advisory Board identifies key trends influencing the emergence of new sustainability strategies providing efficiency and cost savings to county government.

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America’s Counties Experience the Benefits of Soy Biobased Products

October 2012

A brief look at how counties are using Soy Biobased products to save money and green their counties.​

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Green Technology: How Tech Enables Counties to Invest in Renewables

Thursday, February 27, 2014; 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM Eastern Time

Recent advancements in technology have spurred interest and growth across the nation in renewable energy. Technology is allowing counties to more efficiently develop renewable energy programs - from siting new wind energy facilities, to creating energy from once unused sources including converting post-recycled solid waste into electricity, to ensuring reliable and secure transmission of energy via smart grids. By providing an easier path to renewable energy, technology is helping counties reduce energy costs and generate new economic activity, while meeting sustainability goals.

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Green Goods: How to Create Sustainable County Purchasing and Procurement Programs

​Wednesday, January 22, 2014; 2:00-3:15 PM Eastern time

As counties strive to reduce waste, conserve energy and lower operational costs, purchasing recycled and environmentally-friendly goods, materials and services can greatly contribute to meeting a county’s financial and sustainability goals. Join us to discuss how you can help your county develop an environmentally preferred purchasing program, navigate the myriad of product eco-labels and green purchasing guidelines and hear success stories from counties that have established sustainable purchasing and procurement programs.

CSI Blog Spotlight: Green Government rssicon.png
Waste Not, Want Not (Part 1): The Rise of the Zero Waste Movement New

Written by Alix Kashdan, Community and Economic Development Intern.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (image, license).

Amid concerns over energy costs and natural resource depletion, counties across the United States are seeking innovative ways to encourage more sustainable living practices.  A recent trend in this effort is the “zero waste” philosophy.  Zero waste promotes reusing all discarded items, with the ultimate aim that no unusable waste will be sent to landfills.  At the institutional level, the zero waste philosophy includes private companies that design products composed of recycled materials and that can be reused, recycled or composted, and local jurisdictions that adopt public ...

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(NACo Podcasts) Resiliency in New Orleans: The Urban Water Plan


In order to remain healthy, vibrant, safe and economically competitive, America’s counties must be able to anticipate and adapt to all types of change.  Coastal Louisiana is one part of the country that is taking strides to adapt and strengthen its resiliency in the face of threats from increasingly severe weather events.

Composed of ten parishes with over 1 million residents, Greater New Orleans Inc, or GNO Inc. for short, is southeast Louisiana’s economic development organization. Given the importance of water to the region’s culture and economy, in 2010 the state of Louisiana provided funding to GNO Inc. to develop the Greater N...

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Obama Administration Accepting Applications for New Climate Action Champions Competition

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.

The colors on the map show temperature changes over the past 22 years (1991-2012) compared to the 1901-1960 average, and compared to the 1951-1980 average for Alaska and Hawaii.  The period from 2001 to 2012 was warmer than any previous decade in every region. (Figure source: NOAA NCDC / CICS-NC).

On October 1st, the Obama Administration announced a new Climate Action Champions competition to identify, showcase and invest in up to 15 local and tribal governments across the nation that demonstrate ongoing commitment to cutting carbon pollution and preparing for the impacts of a changing climate.  Focusing on both mitigation a...

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2 weeks ago

Coastal Resiliency: Ecosystem Management

Written by Alyssum PohlNOAA Digital Coast Fellow.


The many facets of coastal resilience may fall under three broad topics: water quality, severe weather and climate change adaptation, and ecosystem management.  Two recent NACo publications, Planning Resilient Water Systems and Severe Weather and Climate Change Adaptation, review county-implemented solutions addressing water quality and severe weather and climate change issues.  This in-depth blog post will touch upon the third facet, ecosystem management.  Ecosystem management approaches can help to alleviate or solve ecological issues, economic difficulties, ineffective decision-making processes and social concerns.  Good ecosystem management demands attention to the complexity of natural processes and social systems, considers geographic areas that may not adhere to political boundaries and emphasizes collaborative dec...

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2 weeks ago

(NACo Podcasts) Great Lakes Planning Guide: A New Resource


Alyssum Pohl, NOAA Digital Coast Fellow at NACo interviews Jeff Stone, Senior Project Manager at the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), about a new website called the Great Lakes Planning Guide. The Guide provides Great Lakes region stories, data, tools and other resources related to flooding, bluff erosion, invasive species, and other coastal concerns. Mr. Stone shares the impetus for creating the guide, a bit about the process, as well as how users can best benefit from the resource.

Explore the Great Lakes Planning Guide at​

Subscribing to NACo Podcasts is simple. If you are using an Apple device, while on your device...
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3 weeks ago