If 2012 was the year a changing climate beat U.S. cities like Apollo beat Rocky, 2013 may go down as the year that urban America hit the meat locker and got serious about defending itself.

Thanks to disasters like Superstorm Sandy, being “green” is no longer just a tired trend. The notion of becoming “environmentally friendly” has morphed into a mandate to buttress ourselves against an environment that has become decidedly unfriendly to us.

And the antics in Congress this year make it abundantly clear that, as sustainable communities activist Rob Hopkins told me recently, the cavalry is not coming; it’s up to cities to devise plans for keeping cool in the hot times ahead. We can only pray that the feds will follow the local lead.