Asheville’s Office of Sustainability turns lens on climate resiliency

Prolonged droughts resulting in regional woods fires pose challenges to our environment and climate resiliency. This dynamic is one that both the City of Asheville Office of Sustainability and NEMAC are analyzing.



Topic to be incorporated
into City’s Comprehensive Plan update


Flooding. Landslides. Drought. Wildfire. Each season brings more worldwide reminders that weather and temperature can quickly cause significant destruction to a community. That’s why we are getting ready now.

The City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability is working with UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) to determine how Asheville can become more resilient to these environmental changes. Asheville’s Climate Resiliency Plan will help the City be prepared for and hopefully lessen the impacts of future extreme weather and climate change.

Members of the City’s Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment (SACEE) visited The Collider this week for a presentation from NEMAC on the project. The Collider is a collaborative center focused on climate and innovation. The presentation was open to the public.

Currently, NEMAC and City staff are analyzing possible impacts of extreme weather by modeling the city’s vulnerabilities — things like the location of steep slopes that could wash out in a flood, how much impervious surface we have that makes rainwaters travel faster, and percent of natural areas for habitat and conservation that are susceptible to wildfires during a drought. Then they will calculate the risks associated with climate-related hazards in the Asheville area, and possible threats to the key assets that the community values. That information will help identify actions the City can take to best prepare for these hazards and other future possible conditions. This would include identifying existing policies and new options that reduce vulnerability and build resilience.

Climate adaptation and resilience options from the climate resiliency plan will be integrated throughout the City’s comprehensive plan update, Living Asheville: A Comprehensive Plan for Our Future.