Climate Change Vulnerability & Risk Assessments

Climate Resilience Support

Smart leaders prioritize planning for climate change vulnerability and risk. Visionary leaders surround themselves with experts who provide this climate resilience support with a focus on social equity. That’s Fernleaf’s sweet spot. We are industry experts that look at climate vulnerability and risk assessments and resilience planning from a fresh perspective. We bring equity values, quantifiable data, and standards of excellence to every project we work on.

The best results come from big thinkers who have solid processes. As with everything we do, our processes are continually-refined, fueled by our values, informed by trusted data, and measured by our standards. We help you identify and prioritize the hundreds of potential adaptation options to move from analysis to targeted action for measurable results.


We start by helping clients examine the threats facing their communities. We do this through the lens of vulnerability and social equity. Which areas, structures, infrastructure, land, neighborhoods, and people have the most vulnerability? What are the highest priorities, especially factoring in social equity components? Check out the project we did for Charleston, SC, and find out how we evaluated growth and development in flood-prone areas, as well as a full scope of vulnerabilities, risks, and additional hazards.

With quantifiable data analysis and astute planning, we help leaders take the guesswork out of resilience to serve the public by ensuring that the greatest areas of vulnerability are highlighted, plans are created to address those vulnerabilities, and budgets and operational activities align to support those plans.

Data Driven

We have worked side by side with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to establish best practices in using the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit and cultivating data from trusted federal, state, and local sources across scores of communities. We combine this with data from your community, including building codes, local property uses, and local ordinances. This data is the foundation for our unique software, AccelAdapt. AccelAdapt delivers a platform for a multi-threat assessment and an understanding of social equity components. 

In a facilitated, data-driven workshop and accompanying quantitative report, you gain an understanding of regional climate and non-climate stressors that drive vulnerability at a local scale, including critical thresholds for factors such as extreme precipitation, flooding, landslides, extreme heat, and wildfires. We perform a sector-by-sector, asset-by-asset assessment at an individual property level across your entire community. Your local property data, ordinances, and building codes drive this analysis, and it includes social vulnerability metrics for a comprehensive analysis tailored to your needs. You gain insights on the threats that pose the highest risk for your community, and you also understand where in your community people and assets are most vulnerable. This analysis makes it easy for you to recognize critical access issues, mobility challenges, and business disruption. These insights can be integrated into existing hazard mitigation, comprehensive, and capital improvement plans by informing goals and strategies that will ultimately make your community more resilient.


Fernleaf relies on the Steps to Resilience Framework in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. These steps underpin each climate vulnerability and risk plan created with our clients. By following the national standard that has been developed in tandem with climate experts at NOAA, we ensure our clients are getting the highest level of service we can provide. Every project we implement follows this standard, as you’ll see in the examples of our experience.

View Examples

How We

Public-Private Partnership

Fernleaf and UNC Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) entered into a formal agreement in 2018 that established a public-private partnership. This partnership leverages Fernleaf's process and software innovations combined with NEMAC's applied research expertise, and enables tremendous flexibility in customer engagement. The two groups come together through a shared common goal: promote resilience by empowering communities and companies to make the right investments for effective resilience and adaptation.

Analysis Capacity

Need help sifting through all the data and translating it into an actionable, strategic plan? We can help. Our climate resilience professionals use data from trusted sources alongside your local data to power our data analytics platform, AccelAdapt, to provide quantitative and actionable data to inform your decision-making process. AccelAdapt is widely recognized by climate decision makers as a leading tool to assist in the development of climate change action plans.

Resilience Technical Advisory Partner

You’ve got a plan. Now you’re ready to start taking action. Our specialized support services team helps you take the guesswork out of resilience, secure project funding, and accelerates your adaptation. Engage us directly to help develop communication strategies, assess actions, mainstream equitable action into ongoing operations, or answer hard questions.

End-to-End Resilience Planning

Just getting started? We’re here to help. We have led dozens of communities through the Steps to Resilience planning process, including building a shared understanding of changing climate and non-climate stressors, developing quantitative values-based climate change vulnerability and risk assessments, identifying potential projects and strategies, and prioritizing actions. Along the way, we build staff capacity, create interdepartmental coordination, and help you move forward confidently.

Frequently Used Terms

Our industry uses language that can seem a bit jargony at times, but it’s important stuff and we want to make sure we are all on the same page. Here are a few of our most frequently used terms and what they mean.

Adaptive Capacity: the ability of a person, asset, or system to adjust to a hazard, take advantage of new opportunities, or cope with change.

Assets: the tangible and intangible things people or communities need and value. This includes people, resources, ecosystems, infrastructure, and services.

Exposure: the presence of people, assets, and ecosystems in places where they could be adversely affected by hazards.

Hazards and Threats: events or conditions that may cause injury, illness, or death to people or damage to assets.

Resilience: the capacity of a community, business, or natural environment to prevent, withstand, respond to, and recover from a disruption.

Vulnerability: a term often used to describe susceptibility to harm. In the context of building climate resilience, a vulnerability assessment is a structured process that identifies ways in which an organization or community is susceptible to harm from existing or potential threats.

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