Chattanooga Airport, Volkswagen Receive Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau presented the 2013 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards at Lipscomb University’s Shamblin Theatre in Nashville Tuesday, recognizing 12 honorees whose efforts have made a positive impact on Tennessee’s natural resources.  The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority and Volkswagen were among the honorees. 

“Today’s award ceremony honored groups and individuals across the state for their commitment to a healthier Tennessee,” Governor Haslam said.  “I want to commend all of this year’s honorees for their innovative efforts to help conserve and protect Tennessee’s natural resources for future generations.” 

The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect the environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.  In its 27th year, the program covers nine categories: Building Green; Clean Air, Energy and Renewable Resources; Environmental Education and Outreach; Environmental Education and Outreach (school category); Land Use; Materials Management; Natural Heritage; and Sustainable Performance. 

“The quality of our environment directly affects our quality of life, impacting how Tennesseans live, work and play,” added Commissioner Martineau.  “Today we had an opportunity to recognize the people and organizations that work so hard to protect our environment, while educating others about sustainability.” 

A panel of 28 judges representing agricultural, conservation, and environmental professionals evaluated more than 100 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.  The winner of one additional honor, the Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award, also was announced at Tuesday’s ceremony. 

The 2013 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award winners are: 

The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award

The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award was given to James H. (Jim) Fyke, former TDEC Commissioner and director of Metro Parks, and a long-time advocate of land conservation in Tennessee.  

“Jim Fyke has dedicated the majority of his adult life to improving the quality of life for all Tennesseans,” said Commissioner Martineau.  “His contributions to the expansion of public lands, improved outdoor recreational opportunities, and the protection and preservation of Tennessee’s natural resources are unprecedented.  There is no doubt that Jim has truly made better places and greener spaces for the citizens of Nashville and for the entire state of Tennessee.” 

Mr. Fyke’s 48 years of distinguished public service includes roles as the director of the Metropolitan Nashville Board of Parks and Recreation from 1978 to 2003, and subsequently as deputy commissioner for Tennessee State Parks, and then as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. 

During Mr. Fyke’s 39-year tenure with Metro Parks, he helped transform it into one of the best and largest municipal park systems in the country, increasing the number of city parks from 57 to 100 and total acreage from 5,800 to more than 10,000, officials said.  He also established the Metro Nashville Greenways Commission; formed the city’s first Parks and Greenways Master Plan; and coordinated the acquisition and development of Beaman Park, Shelby Bottoms Park and Greenway, and the Warner Park Nature Center. 

Upon arriving at TDEC, Mr. Fyke rejuvenated the state parks system that had been impacted by significant budget challenges.  These efforts culminated in 2007 when the National Recreation and Parks Association recognized Tennessee State Parks as the best state park system in the nation with its Gold Medal Award.  As TDEC Commissioner, Mr. Fyke was also instrumental in protecting and conserving more than 200,000 acres of public lands, including 124,000 acres on the North Cumberland Plateau, the largest such acquisition in state history. 

Mr. Fyke’s diverse achievements include several distinguished awards, including being named the Tennessee Golf Foundation’s “Golf Person of the Year” in 2003, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation’s “Conservationist of the Year” in 2008, and his induction into the Nashville Public Schools Hall of Fame in 2011.

Category: Excellence in Building Green 

Music City Center (Davidson County) - The Music City Center is not only Nashville’s new state-of-the-art convention center, it also can boast as being one of the city’s most environmentally friendly facilities.  

At 2.1 million square feet, it is also one of Nashville’s largest buildings.

Some of the major sustainable features of this $585 million facility include a 175,000-square-foot (approximately four acres) green roof, the largest in Tennessee; a 360,000-gallon rainwater collection tank; a 211 kilowatt solar panel system; and LED lighting throughout the building. The Music City Center’s innovative approach to stormwater capture and reuse will achieve 70 percent overall reduction in potable water use by the entire building. The high performance building envelope, coupled with its energy efficient lighting fixtures and controls and a high-efficiency HVAC system, results in a building that is 14 percent more energy efficient overall. The Music City Center is on track to become LEED-Silver certified, making it one of only 18 LEED-certified convention centers in the entire U.S.

Category: Excellence in Clean Air 

Smart Trips (Anderson, Blount, Cocke, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, and Sevier Counties) - Smart Trips promotes clean air by encouraging reduced vehicle miles traveled in the East Tennessee region. This program serves residents of Knox and seven surrounding counties, and allows participants to earn gift cards to local merchants for driving less. Started in 2003, Smart Trips grew by a quantum leap in 2012, adding 585 new registrants for a total of 1,190 participants, with the gain in popularity due in part to enhanced incentives and a robust outreach campaign. Smart Trips users logged 589,133 miles in “alternative” commutes last year, including carpool, vanpool, transit, bicycle, walking, telework, and compressed work weeks. This represents 253.4 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions prevented, as well as significant reductions of NOx, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and other tailpipe air pollutants. The Smart Trips program was nationally recognized for its efforts and successes in 2012 by the National Center for Transit Research, earning the Gold Award for its creative approach to transportation demand management.

Category: Excellence in Energy and Renewable Resources 

Brother International Corporation Energy Star Certification 2012 (Shelby County) - In 2012, Brother International Corporation achieved ENERGY STAR certification for their 1.6-million-square-foot distribution center in Bartlett, Tenn. 

Brother International’s distribution center is the largest commercial facility and one of only 12 in Tennessee to have received an ENERGY STAR rating – and by doing so has doubled the total ENERGY STAR square footage in the state. Initiatives that made this certification possible include the use of higher chiller set-points; variable drive systems for heating and cooling systems; installation of energy efficient reflective roofing; and other building and equipment upgrades; as well as the construction of two 60 kilowatt solar farms that together, generate nearly 180,000 kilowatt hours of clean renewable energy per year. 

Category: Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach 

Cumberland Region Tomorrow’s Quality Growth Toolbox Education and Outreach Initiative (Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery, Sumner, Robertson, Rutherford, Williamson, and Wilson Counties) - Cumberland Region Tomorrow works to encourage growth planning and implementation by bringing people and organizations together to communicate, collaborate, and take action on issues of Middle Tennessee’s future growth and development. Cumberland Region Tomorrow’s Quality Growth Toolbox Education and Outreach Initiative promotes the adoption of innovative professional practices in community development; comprehensive planning; community reinvestment and design; strategic open space conservation; integrated land use and transportation planning; and targeted infrastructure investments that are proven to directly impact environmental quality and outcomes. The Quality Growth Toolbox project efforts teach key public and private leaders how to implement quality growth planning and sustainable development practices that have a direct environmental impact. These improved practices have resulted in the creation of new comprehensive plans and support zoning and codes that create more sustainable growth patterns, preserve farmlands and important open spaces, and guide development into existing communities.

Category: Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach / Schools 

Lipscomb Academy Elementary School: Leading Actively in Environmental Service (Davidson County) -

Beginning in 2012, third-grade teachers and students at Lipscomb Academy Elementary School implemented a year-long project with several service learning components. The project, “Keep Our Water Clean,” focused students’ academic studies on environmentally safe disposal practices for unused prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Students studied the production of medications and engaged in several hands-on experiments, and learned that medications dumped into the landfill or flushed down the toilet leach into soil and remain in the water supply.

They subsequently made their findings public using a variety of media and venues. Finally, the third-graders collaborated with the Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy, Nissan North America, and the Nashville Police Department to host a Household Hazardous Waste collection event where 21,768 pills (163 pounds) were collected, preventing the medications from entering Nashville’s water supply. Throughout the project, students informed thousands of Nashvillians about the proper disposal of medications to prevent water pollution, antibiotic resistance, and medicine residue in soil and food products. The project received first place in Tennessee for Disney’s Planet Challenge, and ranked in the top eight projects in Disney’s national competition. 

Category: Excellence in Land Use 

Greensboro North Transit Ready Development (Sumner County) - Greensboro North Transit Ready Development is one of the first new communities in Middle Tennessee to be planned, designed and constructed as a traditional neighborhood village around a transit station. The new transit station will be a central feature of the community with offices, retailers and residences located within walking distance. The development location is on 150 acres in Gallatin, Tenn. and will capitalize on the future transit line along the northeast corridor from Gallatin to downtown Nashville. Greensboro North takes a bold new approach by requiring “minimum density per acre,” which will maximize the land development, conserve resources, and help ensure the viability of the transit station. Greensboro North is designed to accommodate a vertical mix of uses including commercial, office, a variety of housing options, and a minimum of 20 percent open space. It will promote a compact community connected by a walkable and bikeable network of streets and trails. The plan also encourages the use of low-impact development and innovative stormwater techniques to incorporate ecological principles.

Category: Excellence in Materials Management 

CKNA-Lewisburg Goes Zero Landfill (Marshall County) - Calsonic Kansei North America reached a very significant milestone last year by becoming landfill free at their Lewisburg, Tenn. manufacturing facility. Since February 2012, the first month that “zero landfill” status was accomplished, no waste from this facility has been disposed via landfill. Calsonic-Lewisburg recycled 2,290 tons of combined cardboard and plastic in 2012 – an increase of nearly 112 percent compared to 2009, the year prior to implementing Project Zero. The material recycled in 2012 alone represents a savings of more than 15,000 cubic yards of landfill space, 75,706 million BTUs of energy, almost 377,000 gallons of oil, and 6571 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions avoided – just to name a few of the project’s many environmental benefits. Currently, all but approximately 5 to 8 percent of the waste material generated at Calsonic-Lewisburg is being recycled, and this is being sent to a waste-to-energy facility where it is incinerated to produce renewable electricity. While this method is significantly more expensive than it would be to landfill this material, it further underscores Calsonic-Lewisburg’s exceptional commitment to sustainable management of our natural resources, and to their community.

Category: Excellence in Natural Heritage 

Harpeth River Restoration Project (Williamson County) - For nearly 50 years, a low-head dam located on the main stem of the Harpeth River in Franklin, Tenn., impounded water and restricted the movement of fish. The Harpeth River Restoration Project represents a major initiative in restoring and enhancing one of Tennessee’s increasingly valuable and scenic rivers.   Selected as the sole demonstration project in Tennessee under the Great American Outdoors Rivers Initiative, this project illustrates how it is possible to restore the natural flow and ecology of a river system, while still allowing for drinking water withdrawals. Removal of the dam in July 2012 makes the Harpeth one of the few free-flowing rivers in Tennessee; improves habitat for key, rare species; improves water quality by reducing sediment and erosion; and enhances recreational access and safety. The project’s ecological significance cannot be overestimated as the Harpeth is one of a very unique system of southeastern rivers that together hold more biodiversity than anywhere else in the world.

Category: Excellence in Sustainable Performances 

Chattanooga Airport Sustainability: The Green Initiative (Hamilton County) - As a cornerstone of the community, the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority shares the city’s vision for sustainability. CMAA’s Green Initiative pledge has resulted in numerous sustainability projects over the past five years – such as its efforts toward LEED certification for all new construction and a major commitment to renewable energy.  The recently constructed West Side Aviation Campus is the first such development in the world to be certified LEED Platinum. Installation of a one-megawatt solar farm in 2011, with an additional two megawatts to be constructed beginning in 2013, will effectively make the Chattanooga Airport energy self-sufficient and carbon neutral. A variety of energy-efficient lighting upgrades have reduced the airport’s electricity consumption by more than two megawatts. An innovative stormwater and flood control demonstration project using green infrastructure, a variety of recycling programs, and community education are also part of CMAA’s continuing efforts. 

Pursuit of Excellence Recognition 

Bonnaroo (Coffee County) - For five days each year, 100,000 concert goers descend on Manchester, Tenn. for the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival – one of the largest outdoor concert events in the country. Bonnaroo was recognized in 2010 with a Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for its outstanding efforts to reduce waste produced at the festival. In 2012, Bonnaroo’s organizers turned their focus to energy use, hiring Knoxville-based Sustainable Future to design and install a 50 kilowatt solar array. The array is expected to offset approximately 20 percent of Bonnaroo’s annual electric bill, while generating clean, renewable energy that is sent back to Duck River Utilities throughout the year. The project was fully funded with voluntary attendee contributions, along with a modest $1 per ticket surcharge. Bonnaroo is the first major festival in the country to have a permanent and significant solar array, further demonstrating their commitment to environmental leadership and once again raising the bar for other festivals.

Pursuit of Excellence Recognition 

Volkswagen’s Pursuit of Environmental Excellence (Hamilton County) - Volkswagen of North America received a 2011 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Excellence in Building Green for their $1 billion LEED Platinum-certified Chattanooga production facility. As soon as construction was completed and full-scale production commenced, the site began implementing ongoing sustainability initiatives in multiple areas. These include dual certification in ISO 14001 (Environmental Management) and ISO 50001 (Energy Management); a 9.5-megawatt solar array, the largest in Tennessee and the largest at any U.S. auto plant; restoration and protection of a 40-acre onsite wetland; several projects designed to minimize packaging waste; a pilot project for the reuse of powdered limestone used in their “Eco Dry” paint scrubber system; and an innovative process for “destructive testing” of welded frames, resulting in a 93 percent decrease in the amount of scrap metal generated. These projects demonstrate Volkswagen’s ongoing commitment to sustainability under its “Think Blue Factory” philosophy, a broadly focused initiative for all Volkswagen plants to achieve more efficient use of energy, materials and water, while producing less waste and emissions.

For more information about the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program, visit


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