An $85 million investment for climate science development in Asheville

Funding for the new Industry Proving Grounds Program was announced on Tuesday — so let’s take a look at the center of the initiative right here in our city.

The exterior of the Veach-Baley Federal Complex in Asheville, NC

Asheville has been a federal climate hub since 1951.

Photo by AVLtoday

The seal of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is pretty unassuming as it sits on signs outside the Veach-Baley Federal Complex on Patton Avenue — but big things are brewing inside.

On Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Department of Commerce (DOC) and NOAA announced an $85 million investment in the new Industry Proving Grounds (IPG) Program, which will advance the delivery of climate data and services to the private sector. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) will lead the initiative, and US DOC Deputy Secretary Don Graves and NOAA administrators kicked off the program at the NCEI headquarters right here in Asheville (that one on Patton that we were just talking about).

A data center in downtown

First established as the National Weather Records Center in 1951, Asheville’s NOAA center is one of four NCEI national locations across the country. They provide a free archive of environmental data, products like climate maps and trend reports, and services like climate monitoring — which are used in all sorts of industries, from construction to education, transportation, and retail.

This new program will work to modernize and expand all those products and services coming out of the Asheville center, focusing on help for three industries: finance and reinsurance, retail, and architecture and engineering. WLOS reported that Graves believes the program will bring investment and people into the city.

Looking at the local climate

NOAA’s not the only one with new data, though. Calling Asheville the “climate city,” Graves also highlighted the City’s Climate Justice Initiative — which just got its own upgrade.

So while you’re waiting for the IPG’s new data and tools, you can explore the expanded information on climate vulnerability and climate justice on SimpliCity. When you search an address on the program, you’ll now be able to see details of its climate risk and resiliency as well as check out resources and strategies if you want to take action. Watch a breakdown of how to use the tool.