Denver is the Most Climate-Resilient City in the U.S.

Denver made the top spot for climate-resilient cities.

Architectural Digest has rated 50 major cities across the United States based on population, historical weather data, and more to determine the most climate-resilient cities in the United States. Denver ranks No.1.

Communities invested in renewable energy sources are well-positioned to adapt to a changing climate and will become increasingly more desirable places to live. This will drive up the area’s real estate value.

The study identified 14 factors to quantify a given city’s climate resilience using reliable data sources. For example, population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, weather data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and risk and readiness scores from the University of Notre Dame’s Urban Adaptation Assessment. Here are the factors considered and why they’re important.

  • Population: Areas with lower populations are less likely to overtax existing resources as more residents move in.
  • Elevation and projected sea level rise: The higher a city is above sea level, the less susceptible it is to rising oceans.
  • Extreme weather: Occurrences of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, droughts, and excessive heat and cold since 2012 to see where weather events are becoming more severe.
  • UND UAA Risk score: This number measures an urban environment’s exposure to flooding, the vulnerability of its people and buildings, and its ability to provide health care.
  • UND UAA Readiness score: This number measures an urban environment’s social, economic, and governmental engagement concerning climate change and overall adaptability.
  • Air quality index:  The number of days in 2022 when each city had good-quality air.
  • Clean energy ranking: This is determined by the percentage of power use provided by green energy sources such as solar, water, and wind.

Each city received a score out of 5 for each factor, with 5 meaning “most resilient” and 0 meaning “least resilient.” These factors were then weighted based on their importance, with the UND risk and readiness scores carrying the most weight. The weighted scores were added together, and cities with the highest scores were deemed the most resilient to climate change.

Best Cities for Climate Change

As you might expect, the top-ranked cities had a few things in common. They were likely to have lower populations, higher elevations, fewer adverse weather conditions, and lower overall risks. However, even the top three cities have significant variation when it comes to their strongest factors. The top 10 cities are located in nine states with widely varying elevations. Here are the three with the highest scores.


It’s no surprise that the Mile High City got a perfect 5 out of 5 for elevation. The oceans would have to rise for a very long time before Denver becomes beachfront property. However, Denver has more going for it than just its height above sea level. With the exception of a few droughts and tornadoes, Denver hasn’t experienced any of the measured extreme weather events in the last 10 years. It also scores very well on clean energy sources.

That doesn’t mean it’s perfect: Denver has dealt with air quality problems in the recent past, and while its risk score is low, its readiness score is only slightly above average. Still, Denver has a substantial score advantage over even our second-place city. Denver residents are unlikely to sustain property damage from extreme weather, and they can take advantage of renewable energy that could potentially lower utility bills. This puts Denver in the top spot for climate-resilient cities.

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