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Meridian Institute


Sustainability is, in its most basic sense, the ability to survive in perpetuity. People often refer to the sustainability of ecosystems, of institutions, and of human communities. In the case of institutions and communities, sustainability is often said to include environmental, economic, and societal aspects. That is, to survive in perpetuity, organizations and communities must ensure environmental health, economic prosperity, and social well-being. Resilience is a related concept—the ability of ecosystems, organizations, and human communities to respond effectively to change or even calamity.

Meridian Institute professionals have worked on a wide range of projects relating to sustainability and resilience. Some have involved working with leaders and employees within a single organization—public, private, or nonprofit—to develop a sustainable vision for the future and strategic action steps to get there.

Others have involved facilitating discussions among residents of a given community—each with their own set of interests—on plans to build and improve resilience to natural and man-made disasters. We have also convened dialogues at the national and international levels, with a wide array of decision makers and stakeholders, to address the issue of global sustainability in its broadest sense.

No matter the venue, Meridian professionals work to see that all relevant voices are included and respected in these discussions, that the right process design and substantive information are brought to bear, and that all aspects of sustainability and resilience are taken into consideration.

    • US Green Building Council
    • For the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), Meridian conducted an issue-mapping process to assess the external environment in which USGBC operates, analyzed and summarized the results of that effort, facilitated a board/management team retreat, drafted and finalized a strategic plan, and supported the implementation of the plan and key strategic goals.
    • Campus Resilience Enhancement System (CaRES)
    • In 2012, the Community and Regional Resilience Institute (CARRI) – which is housed at Meridian Institute – was asked by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a system of tools, resources, and processes to help college and university campuses become more resilient to a wide range of disruptions and disturbances. The effort became known as the Campus Resilience Enhancement System project, or CaRES.

      In the first phase, the Meridian/CARRI team applied the DHS’s Whole Community Philosophy of emergency management and resilience, as well as more than six years of lessons from CARRI’s work with communities, to the challenges faced by U.S. colleges and universities. Seven schools – which were diverse in terms of size, geographic location, structure, and affiliation – participated in CaRES Phase I: Drexel University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Green River Community College, Navajo Technical College, Tougaloo College, Texas A&M University, and the University of San Francisco.

      To begin, CARRI developed a baseline design for the system’s concepts, processes, resources, and tools. CARRI then assisted the schools in convening their leadership and students to help test and apply these tools and processes to their own campus emergency management and resilience challenges. The feedback, input, insights, and best practices of these seven partner schools were used to create the CaRES prototype – an interactive, web-based guide to building campus resilience.


      The CaRES prototype can help to enhance the ability of colleges and universities to withstand unforeseen disruptions and crises, manage change, and seize emerging opportunities in increasingly turbulent times – in short, to build their resilience. CaRES Phase I also helped the schools reap the ancillary benefits of improved day-to-day operations and campus life as a result of taking action to strengthen their resilience.
      In CaRES Phase II, from 2015 to 2017, CARRI worked with the seven partner schools to fully implement the CaRES assessment, action, and playbook building process. CARRI convened teams from all of the schools for training in use of the web-enabled tools and resources, as well as providing the campus teams with implementation support and technical assistance.  This Phase II work brought CaRES to a full operating capability and allowed DHS to make CaRES widely available to US colleges and universities.


    • U.S. EPA Water Utility Sector Resilience Planning Workshops
    • ​Meridian Institute provided general facilitation support to plan and deliver a series of four resilience planning workshops in 2017 for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utility managers. The workshops were designed for participants to learn about how extreme weather events could impact water utilities in different regions and to explore adaptation and resilience-building strategies that can reduce long-term risk to water infrastructure and resources from extreme events. Participants also identified key questions about water infrastructure vulnerabilities to address within their respective utilities or communities and learned about strategies for making the business case for investing in resilience. The workshops were held in Seattle, Washington; Lenexa, Kansas; Dallas, Texas; and Charleston, South Carolina. Meridian worked in collaboration with The Cadmus Group, and the workshop series was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Creating Resilient Utilities Initiative.