As temperatures rise, new resilience center takes shape in Atlanta

New community-owned hub will allow local residents to stay safe in heat, cold and other extreme events
Kevin Earley, the senior pastor at Community Church Atlanta, speaks at the groundbreaking for a new community resilience hub in Southwest Atlanta.

Credit: Drew Kann

Credit: Drew Kann

Kevin Earley, the senior pastor at Community Church Atlanta, speaks at the groundbreaking for a new community resilience hub in Southwest Atlanta.

As the threat posed by heat waves and other climate change-fueled extreme events grow, a new model for neighborhood resilience is taking shape in one of Atlanta’s most underserved communities.

On Tuesday, local residents joined faith leaders, city officials and others to announce the official start of construction on the “community resilience hub” that will be located off Cascade Avenue near the West End in Southwest Atlanta.

The facility, which is expected to open by September at the Vicars Community Center run by Community Church Atlanta, will feature a 34-kilowatt rooftop solar installation paired with an onsite battery system capable of storing roughly three days’ worth of electricity.

The resilience hub won’t produce power to keep the lights on in surrounding homes. But in the event of a power outage, the center will serve as a reliable spot for neighbors to come to stay cool or warm, charge phones, and keep critical health supplies safe or running.

“If you have an oxygen concentrator to keep you breathing or you have to keep your insulin refrigerated ... A power outage of even a few hours can really impact your health,” said Michelle Moore, the CEO of Groundswell, a nonprofit focused on community-centered clean energy projects, which spearheaded the project.

The risk of heat waves, in particular, is growing in Atlanta and other cities as human-caused climate change accelerates. Last year, a study commissioned by Atlanta City Councilmembers Liliana Bakhtiari and Matt Westmoreland and conducted by a consulting group run by Georgia Tech professors found heat risk varies greatly across Atlanta’s urban landscape.

Neighborhoods in Southwest Atlanta, including several bordering the new resilience hub, were identified by the study as among the most at-risk to heat, owing to a mix of factors, including less tree cover, lack of central air conditioning, and an older, more vulnerable population. Those most at-risk of complications from heat include children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions, like heart and lung issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In a power outage or other event, the resilience hub will help fill in the gaps between first responders and utilities.

“We want to be the place people turn to for help in our community, regardless of their faith,” said Kevin Earley, the senior pastor of Community Church Atlanta, in a statement.

The facility is one of the first community-owned centers of its kind in the Southeast, Groundswell said. The clean energy installations were made possible, in part, by President Joe Biden’s signature climate and healthcare law, the Inflation Reduction Act, the group said. The law expanded nonprofit eligibility for certain types of clean energy tax credits.

The hub was also made possible by donations from the GM (General Motors) Foundation and Stryten Energy, a Georgia-based provider of energy storage solutions, which is designing and installing the battery system.

A note of disclosure

This coverage is supported by a partnership with Green South Foundation and Journalism Funding Partners. You can learn more and support our climate reporting by donating at