Q&A with Asheville’s Chief Sustainability Officer Amber Weaver

Asheville’s new Chief Sustainability Officer Amber Weaver describes herself as a true environmentalist who also understands the importance of integrating multiple aspects of sustainability within our system. As such, she works to integrate innovative approaches to waste reduction and recycling, smart energy use and greener living.

Though she worked in energy and environmental project management in the Atlanta area, Amber kept her eye on Asheville. She camped with her family in Haywood County for the past decade. When the Asheville job opened, she saw her chance to combine her professional life with her love of the WNC mountains.

“I’ve watched the City of Asheville’s sustainability program over the years and have referenced what the city was doing,” she said. “I thought they were very innovative.”

We caught up with her on Day 7 with the City, still unpacking boxes, moving into her office. Though she is new to the City, Amber brings enthusiasm along with her expertise to Asheville’s Office of Sustainability. We sat down for a little Q&A to pick her brain about Sustainability goals and initiatives.

Question: What are some of the initiatives will you be working on this year?

Answer: There are a lot of exciting and innovative opportunities coming up. For example, the City is looking at waste reduction efforts. We are working to reduce our waste stream by 50% by 2035. With that commitment we’re looking at waste reduction efforts, such as such as increased recycling efforts in multifamily housing and exploring composting.

Q: How would you assess the City of Asheville’s sustainability or carbon footprint?

A: The City has reduced its carbon footprint by 2% every year starting in 2009. In 2010, City Council doubled the goal to 4% for the next five years. We’ve achieved that through use of energy-efficient vehicles, installation of the LED lights in City Hall and the sensors in our buildings that turn off lights when no one is in the room. We’re also seeing behavior change in the workplace. People are turning off lights and computers when they’re not being used. In addition, we’re using biodiesel in some of our vehicles. The waste reduction efforts will help to give us that next bump.

Q: How does climate change factor into sustainability efforts?

A: We’re now in a period of climate adaptation. As a result of climate change, Asheville and Western North Carolina has been seeing more floods and landslides. So we’re partnering with the UNCA National Environmental Modeling and Analysis center to look as ways of mitigating erosion from strong weather events, for example.

Q: What initiatives from your former position in Georgia would you like to replicate here?

A: We had a green business program and I’d like to see what can we do to partner with Asheville’s business community. Because it’s not just the City’s carbon footprint we are working on, it’s the entire community.

Find out more
For more on the City of Asheville’s Office of Sustainability, visit http://www.ashevillenc.gov/Departments/Sustainability.aspx. Contact Chief Sustainability Officer Amber Weaver at aweaver@ashevillenc.gov or 828-271-6141.