Climate Change, Hazards and Green Infrastructure Planning

Elisabeth Hamin Certificate Program Advisor

The Graduate Certificate in Climate Change, Hazards and Green Infrastructure Planning provides students with a credential showing that they have unique skills in one of the most pressing topic areas in policy today.  This is a nationally-innovative program bringing together the knowledge of the need for more resilient communities, and the skills to address it through the built form and social structure.

Why this topic?  There is an emerging need for professionals trained in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience to climate change effects.  This is a particular issue at the site, local, and regional level, where choices in infrastructure and spatial form can support lower fossil fuel use and better hazard resilience for all, or they can build in inefficiency, inequity and risk to communities.  When it comes to the built form, the best approaches utilize green infrastructure such as low-impact stormwater management systems, urban greening to reduce heat island effects, low-fossil-fuel transport systems, and regenerative designs that also attend to equity. These practices need to be embedded in community goals, values and visions.  Addressed holistically, this enables fundamental change in community futures.

Why here? We bring together the knowledge and skills of landscape architects and planners, providing the best approach to this topic available in the nation. Landscape architecture works at the site level and designs appropriate systems to support new building; planning provides the public process and strategic outlook as well as regulatory framework within which new development occurs.  Coursework in other departments at UMass supports the Certificate’s core classes.   Together these create a coherent and advanced practical set of skills and knowledge. 

How does the Certificate work?  You must take two core classes, one in Planning for Climate Change, one in Green Infrastructure – please see the Checksheet.  Then take three other classes in related areas, as shown on the Checksheet.  Many of these are available on-line over the summers, so you can get this Certificate done in just one Spring semester and one Summer.  There is no limit on dual-counting of Certificate courses if these courses also fulfill requirements in your degree program.  In other words, use these Certificate courses for your degree electives, and you may not have to take any extra courses at all.

Who can get the Certificate?  We welcome students from a broad range of disciplines, as well as returning professionals.  Graduate students in any field can apply to matriculate into the Certificate Program.  Graduating college Seniors may apply as well.  The certificate is also available to non-degree students through enrollment in the University of Massachusetts Continuing and Professional Education (for application and enrollment policies, see

Students will apply to the certificate by emailing the coordinator their cv/resume and a brief statement of interest.

Core Knowledge and Skills:

  • Basic comprehension of climate change processes (refresher information included in Planning for Climate Change, more extensive coverage for those who need it is through Geography courses.
  • Familiarity with the theories of resilience and sustainability in the urban environment
  • Understanding the multiple-objectives of green infrastructure planning and design including water quality and quantity management, biodiversity, transportation, and recreational resources.
  • Comprehension of planning processes and best practices for municipalities and regions to improve the resilience of urban infrastructure
  • Ability to plan and design green infrastructure networks across multiple spatial scales (i.e., site, local, and regional).
  • Awareness of equity implications of hazard vulnerability and infrastructure or policy choices Specialized Knowledge and Skills available through Electives
  • Municipal greenhouse gas accounting, climate action plan preparation, and best practices to encourage reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the local level.
  • Municipal climate adaptation planning best practices to improve resilience to current and future climate variability.
  • Mapping strategies and geographic information systems modeling to investigate vulnerability to hazards and future climate
  • Advanced knowledge of the performance and monitoring of green infrastructure
  • Specialized knowledge in applying and implementing green infrastructure as a natural hazard planning tool.
  • Interactions of social and cultural structures with community design and resilience to hazards.

Course order
The two core classes should be taken first, but the electives can be scheduled to suit the student.

Required courses 
RegionPl 585 Planning for Climate Change Fall
LandArch 591I Green Infrastructure Spring

RegionPl 591X Climate Adaptation for Urban Areas Summer/on-line
RegionPl 591P Low-Carbon Cities Summer/on-line
RegionPl 625 Geographic Information Systems Spring in-person or Summer/on-line
LandArch 582 Green Urbanism Spring
LandArch 591K Advanced Topics in Green Infrastructure Performance and Monitoring Spring
LandArch593F Study Tour in Europe (up to 3 credits) Spring/Summer
RegionPl 580 Sustainable Cities Seminar Spring NRC 578 Watershed Science and Management Spring
Geo-Sci 510 Natural Hazards Summer/on-line 
Geography 658 Paleoclimatology varies
Geography 654 Problems in Climatology varies
Electives in hydrology, geosciences, and social processes as approved by Certificate Advisor.

GPA requirement: 3.0 average in major courses for matriculating students or special permission of advisor. No prerequisites, although students without a background in ecology/climate will be directed to appropriate elective courses to assure a solid intellectual foundation.

CCGI checksheet (for advising)   Graduate Certificate Eligibility Form

What next?  
​Please contact the Certificate Program Advisor, Professor Elisabeth Hamin, at, for more details.