This guidebook is intended to be used alongside FEMA's Community Rating System (CRS) Coordinator’s Manual and is not intended to provide specific guidance regarding earning, scoring, or documenting actions to earn a community CRS credit. The best practices, success stories, and element summaries found in this document represent a fraction of the information available regarding the CRS program. Replication of actions taken by communities featured in this guidebook does not guarantee credit. If you have specific question about the CRS program, please reference the CRS Coordinator’s Manual or contact your ISO/CRS Specialist, both of which can be found online at http://crsresources.org.

The views and conclusions contained in this document are those of the authors and should not be interpreted as representing the opinions or policies of the U.S. Government or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and its funding sources. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute their endorsement by the U.S. Government, or the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation or its funding sources.

1. Introduction

Who doesn’t want to reduce flood insurance premiums for citizens in their communities and do something good for the environment?  Through participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) a community can undertake activities (in CRS-speak, a specific action is called an “element”) that earn credits which lead to flood insurance premium reductions for a majority of policyholders.

A recent study estimated that the savings associated with a one point increase in CRS Activity 420 Open Space Preservation is, on average, $3,532 per community per year (Highfield & Brody, 2013).

The purpose of the CRS Green Guide is to highlight 25 of the 94 elements in the 2017 CRS Coordinator’s Manual, which have beneficial impacts beyond flood risk reduction. The “co-benefits” this Green Guide seeks to feature include but are not limited to protection of the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains, creation of habitat for fish, fowl, and wildlife, enhanced air and water quality, restoration of natural ecosystems, a more sustainable environment, and creation of additional opportunities for recreation and interaction with nature.

Think about it, these 25 elements can add up to a substantial number of points; you only need 4,500 points to achieve a 45% reduction in flood insurance premiums!

The project team developed this guide by identifying the “best of the best” communities in the nation who are successfully implementing a particular element.  After extensive interviews and research, a “profile” of each “Green” CRS element was written up to share local insights, best practices, useful tools and resources, and challenges associated with implementing that particular element.  It is our hope that this guide will help users go beyond the descriptions of the elements in the CRS Coordinator’s Manual and give real examples on how to implement particular elements in a way that also enhances the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains in addition to reaping the benefits of reduced flood insurance premiums.

How To Use The Guide

This guide is intended to be used by local floodplain managers, planners, and other local officials who are interested in joining the CRS or learning more about its “Green” elements, as well as CRS Coordinator's that would like to give more attention to elements that will enhance the resiliency of their community and the natural environment. The Green Guide may also be a valuable resource to CRS Users Groups that are seeking to provide guidance on the co-benefits of the CRS, or by conservation-oriented non-governmental organizations that would like to learn more about how the CRS program helps support their initiatives. For those that are unfamiliar with the basic aspects of the CRS, Chapter 3 provides a short introduction to the program; however, it is recommended that you consult the CRS Coordinators Manual for a complete description.

In total this Green Guide addresses 25 (Table 1) of the 94 elements included in the CRS Coordinator’s Manual. On this website you can find a brief “profile” of each of these 25 elements including information about creditable activities, the maximum amount of points communities are able to earn, and tips for success, as well as an assessment of the degree of difficulty associated with earning credit and co-benefits associated with taking action in your community. Also included with most element profiles is a success story featuring an exemplary community which has successfully implemented a project, policy, or program for which they are earning CRS credit. For ease of reference, page numbers from the 2017 CRS Coordinator’s Manual will be provided for individuals who are interested in finding additional information.

Table 1. CRS Green Guide Elements

Element Name Possible Points
322.g. Natural Floodplain Functions (MI7) 20 points
332.a. Outreach Projects (OP) 200 points
332.d. Stakeholder Delivery (STK) 50 points
412.e. More Restrictive Floodway Standard (FWS) 140 points
422.a. Open Space Preservation (OSP) 1,450 points
422.b. Deed Restrictions (DR) 50 points
422.c. Natural Functions Open Space (NFOS) 350 points
422.d. Special Flood Related Hazards Open Space (SHOS) 150 points
422.e. Coastal Erosion Open Space (CEOS) 750 points
422.f. Open Space Incentives (OSI) 250 points
422.g. Low Density Zoning (LZ) 600 points
422.h. Natural Shoreline Protection (NSP) 120 points
432.a. Development Limitations (DL) 1,330 points
432.l. Special Flood-Related Hazard Regulations (SHR) 100 points
432.n. Coastal Erosion Hazard Regulations (CER) 370 points
442.d. Erosion Data Maintenance (EDM) 20 points
452.a. Stormwater Management Regulations (SMR) 380 points
452.b. Watershed Master Plan (WMP) 315 points
452.c. Erosion and Sediment Control Regulations (ESC) 40 points
452.d. Water Quality Regulations (WQ) 20 points
512.c. Natural Floodplain Functions Plan (NFP) 100 points
Activity 520
522.a. Buildings Acquired or Relocated (bAR),
522.b. Buildings on the Repetitive Loss List (bRL), and
522.c. Severe Repetitive Loss Properties (bSRL)
2,250 points
542.c. Capital Improvement Program (CIP) 70 points
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