Municipal Vulnerability Action

The recent redesign of the Worcester Senior Center parking lot is a successful example of how the City is using nature-based solutions, also known as “green infrastructure”, to address the increasing hazards of flooding and the heat island effect. The project was conceived in 2019 as a part of the Municipal Vulnerability Planning process, and was ultimately completed in 2021.

The Worcester Senior Center parcel is heavily developed, consisting of two connected buildings and a black-top parking lot. Previously, the site had very little green space. All of this impervious surface, in addition to the inadequate drainage system, meant that previously most of the rain that fell on the site collected and drained into the city’s overburdened storm water system, sometimes causing localized flooding to the surrounding residential areas. In addition, the blacktop in the area caused a “heat island” effect, which can make hot days feel even hotter. To relieve these challenges, the City took advantage of the opportunity to reconstruct the parking lot using a hybrid of green and grey infrastructure.

A raingarden and bioswales (examples of green infrastructure), as well as an underground holding tank (which is traditional grey infrastructure), were installed. Collectively, these installations reduce the amount of water entering the stormwater system and flooding into the street by slowing the water down and letting it infiltrate into the ground. The addition of trees and plants to the area also reduce the heat index of the neighborhood.

This project is one example of a larger effort to make the Worcester Senior Center more modern, sustainable and resilient:

  • Interior lighting upgrades by converting to energy efficient LEDs (completed; Green Communities grant)
  • Demolition of the 12 Winthrop St building (completed; MassWorks grant)

Forthcoming in the late summer 2021 – winter 2022:

  • Installation of the solar parking canopies
  • Installation of the solar thermal panels on the lunch room roof
  • Refurbishing existing unused rooms to create a new fitness center on the 1st floor and a new activity room on the 2nd floor (MassWorks grant)

The work was made possible by the MassWorks Grant, the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action Grant, and the City funds