Resilient Landscapes

Sustainability Director

Brian Blackmon
bblackmon@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-4430

400 Main St., Room 598
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Knoxville is known for its beautiful and scenic open spaces. These green spaces are not only an economic asset but a tool to sequester carbon and reduce environmental problems such as stormwater flooding and urban heat island effect.

The Knoxville area 2018 Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan identifies many of the natural hazards that threaten the region, including drought, extreme temperatures, flood, and severe storms. The most recent update to the Plan leverages technical expertise from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to project changing severity of hazards due to climate change.

The City promotes resilience in the community by embedding support for low-impact design and investing in infrastructure to handle the demands of increased localized flooding events. Following sustainable design practices and preserving natural systems is key to our success. The City strives to ensure that Knoxville’s future reflects community values and allows for social and economic vitality over the long term. In doing so, we work closely with groups such as the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC), Knox County Health Department, Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC), residential and commercial contractors, and other local stakeholders.

Green Infrastructure

"Green Infrastructure” refers to technologies, systems, and practices that utilize natural processes to capture, treat, or reuse stormwater runoff. Green infrastructure strategies range widely in scope and size and include rain gardens, green roofs, permeable surface paving, and vegetated road medians. Green infrastructure provides an alternative method to meet stormwater requirements while often saving money and creating environmental and social benefits, such as improved air quality, increased open space, and streetscape beautification. Learn more at the EPA's Green Infrastructure webpage.

The City’s Engineering Department and Stormwater Division oversee dozens of water quality and green infrastructure projects per year on both public and private property. Public projects like construction of wetlands at Fountain City Lake, the permeable parking lot at the City’s Public Works Service Center, and infiltration islands on Dale Avenue are critical to mitigating the stormwater damage from increasing high-intensity rainfall events.

Knoxville: Days with Extreme Precipitation Events
Knoxville projected extreme precipitation days


Heat Islands 

Heat islands are areas that experience higher temperatures than outlying areas due to infrastructure such as buildings and paved surfaces that absorb more of the sun’s heat than natural landscapes such as forests and bodies of water. Urban areas, where these structures are highly concentrated and greenery is limited, can be 1-7°F hotter than surrounding areas. Increased heat causes increased energy demand and negative effects to human health, but strategies exist to reduct impacts. Learn more at the EPA's Heat Island webpage.

 Knoxville: Average Daily Maximum Temperature
Knoxville Extreme Temperature


Trees

Trees are a valuable public asset in cities. Trees can reduce cooling costs by shading buildings, capture carbon from the atmosphere, reduce stormwater runoff and help mitigate urban heat island effect.

The City of Knoxville has approximately 24,252 acres of tree cover. Those trees store an estimated 760,000 tons of carbon and sequester 21,000 tons annually. The City’s Urban Forestry Division works to maintain a healthy urban tree canopy and seeks opportunities to increase the coverage of these valuable assets.

City-Owned Tree Inventory
Treekeeper Map
Urban Tree Canopy
Tree Canopy