Through the Climate Lens - Are You Climate Change Ready?

Today’s leaders want to understand the climate vulnerabilities in their communities so they can act on climate change and integrate climate change considerations into the planning and development of infrastructure projects.

What is a Climate Lens?

Canada’s Climate Lens is a tool that helps infrastructure owners design better projects by assessing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate resilience of propos­ed infrastructure projects.

Why apply a Climate Lens?

Applying a Climate Lens when planning infrastructure projects can reduce its carbon footprint and improve the overall health and safety of a community. The application of a climate lens in regular project planning and development contributes to the Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change and supports the commitment to reduce Canada’s GHG emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Infrastructure owners benefit from long-term cost savings by understanding the impacts of climate change early on in a project and responding by planning, designing and constructing resilient infrastructure, reducing costly repairs in the future.

A Climate Lens assessment is a mandatory requirement for projects associated with Infrastructure Canada’s programs, including Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and Smart Cities Challenge. Additionally, many governments across Canada require a Climate Lens assessment as part of their projects.

Key Considerations when completing your Climate Lens Assessment

Climate Lens assessments have two main goals. A project may be subject to one or both of the following:

  • Greenhouse gas mitigation assessment measures the anticipated GHG emissions impact of an infrastructure project.
  • Climate change resilience assessment employs a risk management approach to anticipate, prevent, withstand, respond to, recover and adapt from climate change related disruptions or impacts.

GHG mitigation assessments are focused on a project’s impacts on the environment, whereas the resilience component examines the impacts of the changing climate on the project.

For additional details on Climate Lens Assessments, read Infrastructure Canada’s guidance document.

Climate Lens in Action: Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation Cultural Centre, Yukon

Cabin on a cliff with forest and water.

The Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation (LS/CFN), whose Traditional Territory is located in central Yukon, is pursing the development of a new Cultural Centre. This facility will be an important new community gathering place, an archive for repatriation of LS/CFN artifacts and space for Yukon University. To obtain project funding, LS/CFN requires the Cultural Centre to be climate resilient and asked Morrison Hershfield for guidance. A Climate Risk Assessment was completed during the early project planning to help confirm the relevant climate risks for the project.

Effects of a changing climate at the project scale may include impacts to health, safety, the built environment/infrastructure, natural environment, costs and management planning. Climate change resilience assessments analyze projected future climate conditions to determine the likelihood of certain climatic events and the identification of potential consequences of those events for various elements of a proposed project. Then the risk treatment options are defined to enable the planned operation of built and natural public infrastructure to be resilient to future climate conditions and various climate related impacts like floods, fires, extreme heat, drought, sea level rise and other climate change hazards. Examples of risk treatment options include (but are not limited to) design upgrades, asset rehabilitation, repurposing of an asset, modified operational procedures, and emergency management strategies.

In the case of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation Cultural Centre, risks were identified and incorporated into the siting and design of the Cultural Centre. The resilient design includes:

  • A building site and elevation that is not at flood risk and planning flood resilient outdoor elements along the river.
  • Landscaping and outdoor spaces near the Yukon River that are designed to accommodate occasional flooding.
  • Planning for additional cooling due to rising peak temperatures.
  • Increased drainage capacity of the building and site to accommodate increasing precipitation.
  • Roof loads designed to accommodate increased snowfall.
  • The identified need for flood-proof on-site water supply and wastewater solutions.

Morrison Hershfield Can Help.

Our team of specialists can guide you through the Climate Lens process to help identify practical measures that manage risk and enhance resiliency under considerable uncertainty. We work with you to:

  • Engage with community leadership to advance their understanding of the risks associated with climate change.
  • Develop strategies that address the needs specific to your community and project.
  • Assess climate change adaptation options such as planning, asset management and financial projection benefit strategies aimed to improve community resilience.
  • Complete climate adaptation plans that are tailored to your community’s individual needs.
  • Assist with funding applications. Note that Indigenous applicants may be eligible for additional support for resilience assessments through Indigenous Services Canada.

Contact us for more information.

Joelle Doubrough

Kallum Galle



Morrison Hershfield is a market leading, employee-owned professional engineering and management firm that has been making a difference since 1946. We deliver technically sophisticated, cost effective and sustainable infrastructure solutions across the globe.

Posts by Topic


see all topics