GreenWorks Completes Heat Mapping Survey

GreenWorks Interim Executive Director Eric Bradford and Interim Operations Director Chelsea Adams equip volunteers to begin their heat mapping routes during the early morning shift Monday.

We did it!

Phew! After weeks of waiting and wishing for a cloudless day for our heat mapping campaign, Monday was it!

This past week, GreenWorks welcomed 60 volunteers to complete our heat mapping campaign of the greater Asheville area. Many, many more volunteers signed up, and we’re so grateful so many people were willing to lend a hand to make campaign day a success. The weekend rain forced us to reschedule our mapping day at the last minute, and we really appreciate that folks were flexible and arrived for the mapping campaign day eager to measure Asheville’s heat.

During three driving shifts Monday, volunteer teams drove assigned routes throughout Asheville and parts of Buncombe County using special sensors to gather data on heat and humidity.

Satellite data shows us generally which areas of Buncombe County are already experiencing extreme heat. With this study, GreenWorks is documenting the details. We want to see which streets are the hottest, and identify exactly where heat disparities are the worst. To do that, volunteers drove 10 routes throughout heat-vulnerable parts of Buncombe County, including Asheville, Woodfin, Swannanoa, Black Mountain, Candler, and Arden.

GreenWorks is partnering with the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) and McCullough Institute at the University of North Carolina Asheville, and Dr. Jackie Langille from the UNCA Department of Environmental Studies to produce maps and analysis of these heat data.

GreenWorks will work with the City of Asheville to use the final heat data to target tree planting and tree canopy restoration projects to the most heat-vulnerable neighborhoods. In April, GreenWorks partnered with the City of Asheville to expand one of its tree nurseries, growing trees destined for planting projects on public land.

With this data, we’ll work with the UNCA team to produce the following maps and resources:

Searchable Heat Street Map

We want to translate the data from this sensor study into a dynamic color-shaded map that names heat disparities across our community. We’ll embed this heat data into a searchable Google Maps interface, which will allow residents to look up heat impact by address.

Heat-Health Map

GreenWorks will analyze this heat data against local data sets from the Centers for Disease Control for heart, lung and kidney disease, diabetes, asthma, and mental health — six chronic health conditions that are exacerbated by heat. This map resource will illuminate exactly where in the greater Asheville area heat may have an increased impact on residents’ health.

Tree-Planting Map Resource

We’ll pair the heat data with additional data on utilities, ground cover, topography, and grade to identify ideal locations for future tree plantings. This map resource will also pinpoint priority locations to protect existing trees. GreenWorks hopes this resource can become the foundation for an Urban Forest Master Plan for the City of Asheville, a document that will guide the planting and preservation of Asheville’s urban trees.

Heat and Historic Housing Discrimination

GreenWorks will also map its heat data against Asheville’s historic redlining and urban renewal maps to explore the environmental legacy of local discriminatory housing practices. Other cities who’ve completed this NOAA heat mapping study have compared their heat maps against their historic redlining maps and found that they line up perfectly. We’re interested to see how Asheville measures up.

We plan to release the data and analysis to the public in November. Stay tuned!