2015 Winners


Black Bear Solar Institute 

With a mission to address poor air quality caused by tourists’ vehicles at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as a need to educate guests and find more sustainable travel options for park visitors from rural East Tennessee, the nonprofit organization Black Bear Solar Institute built a public educational facility and installed various electric vehicle charging stations, forming the Green Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.

The educational facility, located in Townsend, Tenn., has displays, programs and demonstrations on solar energy, alternative transportation, alternative fuels and electric vehicles. The facility offers visitors the chance to test drive a Nissan Leaf, so they can get first-hand exposure to an electric vehicle. Since its first electric charging station was installed in December 2011, the Green Gateway now extends from Townsend to Cherokee, North Carolina, with charging locations found at businesses, a college campus and an airport.

The success of the Green Gateway led to the State partnering with Black Bear Solar Institute to install electric vehicle charging stations in six Tennessee Parks. The Institute is also working with an electric vehicle manufacturer to select other Tennessee locations that will become future sites for electric charging stations.

City of Kingsport

Since March 2014, more than 500 vehicle trips have been avoided in the City of Kingsport thanks to the Downtown Employee Bicycle User Group (DEBUG) program, which provides bikes and helmets to city employees for free.  Instead of taking a car, employees now have the option to ride bicycles to meetings, luncheons and business events. Bicycles can also be used by employees for after-work activities. As more people joined the group, new bicycle lanes were built in the city.

Other organizations began to see the benefits of the program, as the bicycle trips produced greater benefits to the local economy. Partnerships with DEBUG have grown to include the Downtown Kingsport Association, Healthy Kingsport, the Kingsport Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization, Kingsport Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Kingsport Association, Kingsport Bikes, The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Clean Air, Urban Synergy, Bike Walk Tennessee and the City of Kingsport.

CoLinx, LLC

CoLinx LLC, a Crossville-based company that manages logistics and e-commerce links within supply chains for manufacturers, created a web application called Dockview. The application consolidates small shipments from various shippers into combined, single pallets, to better utilize truck space and to minimize the number of trucks on Tennessee highways. The application has resulted in fewer trucks dispatched, higher truck utilization, lower cost for shippers and dependable damage-free delivery results.

CoLinx, LLC partnered with Baldor, Gates, Schaeffler, SKF, Timken and has the support of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the City of Crossville and the county.


As the premier carrier of high-priority goods in the U.S., FedEx created EarthSmart Innovations to engage in sustainable practices and to involve team members, customers, suppliers, vendors and the communities where they operate to reduce the environmental impact of their daily business practices.

In January 2006, FedEx formed its EarthSmart program, which now includes paperless processing, utilization of zero-emission, all-electric vehicles, extended range electric vehicles and low-emission, hybrid-electric vehicles, the FedEx Paper Recycling Program, carbon-neutral envelope and efficient container shipping, the use of zero-emission tricycles, solar facilities and a LEED-Certified facility, and the use of a fuel efficiency and aircraft performance management tool called Fuel Sense.

FedEx also has partnerships with the Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, the Environmental Protection Agency and Global Environmental Management.

Gibson County Utility District

In May 2015, the Trenton-based Gibson County Utility District is opening what they hope to be “the greenest” and cleanest compressed natural gas refueling station in Tennessee – the Gibson County Energy Complex. The station will be the only public/private compressed natural gas refueling station between Memphis and Nashville.

The Gibson County Energy Complex will provide cleaner, domestic, abundant, lower-cost fuel for inbound and outbound material supply, public and private service organizations and public transportation agencies. The station will also help reduce the area’s dependence on foreign oil imports.

The station is environmentally sustainable, with power largely derived from a natural gas gen-set unit and a bank of batteries replenished by a solar array. A detention pond will be installed to handle storm water runoff. Environmental grasses will be planted as landscaping around the station, so that no mowing will be needed and no pollution created. 

Midwest Energy Solutions Inc. will provide the design, engineering, equipment specification, procurement and installation, site preparation, commissioning, certification, and ongoing maintenance of the complex. Constellation Energy, which supplies Gibson County Utility District with natural gas, is also a proud partner in the project.

Marvin Windows and Doors of Tennessee

Marvin Windows and Doors of Tennessee in Ripley, Tenn., is a Green Star Company that produces custom made-to-order doors for residential and commercial use. The company uses wood from Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.

In 2007, the company began using traffic management and planning to better map out their tractor trailer trucks’ routes. This resulted in the avoidance of additional trips and allowed them to save on freight costs and avoid tons of CO2 emissions in the process. They also equipped their trucks with Environmental Protection Agency engine controls to reduce emissions and new trailers are equipped with aerodynamic skirts to increase fuel efficiency.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory/UT-Battelle, LLC 

In 2009, Oak Ridge National Laboratory was awarded funds by the Department of Energy for the installation of 125 solar-assisted electric vehicle charging stations across Tennessee. The award was then matched by contributions from Nissan North America, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Electric Power Research Institute and the State of Tennessee.

The Laboratory installed its first charging station at its facility in 2011 and eventually added 25 solar-assisted stations and 19 non-solar charging stations. The Laboratory hosts presentations and tours of the charging stations to educate people about the technology. Roughly 41 employees at the Lab drive electric cars and there are two electric cars in the Lab’s fleet. Data is also collected from the charging stations to allow researchers to better understand the station’s utilization. The output of the 47-kilowatt solar stations on campus, which are part of the project, exceeds the energy used by all of the electric vehicles on an annual basis. The Lab’s solar-assisted charging station reduces carbon emissions by 47.2 metric tons per year. The station has also aided in the Laboratory’s Sustainable Campus Initiative.

In November 2013, this initiative was awarded the Presidential Good Neighbor GreenGov Award, with part of the recognition coming from ORNL’s support for the Tennessee EV Project, which helped to install electric vehicle charging stations and encouraged the development of a charging corridor across Tennessee. This state-wide effort was led in part by the Tennessee Electric Vehicle Advisory Council, Tennessee representatives from the Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Coalition program, electric vehicle manufactures and dealerships, and Car Charging Group, Inc.

Overton Park Conservancy 

The Hampline gives Memphis residents a safe, two-mile transit route from Memphis’ Shelby Farms Greenline western terminus to the trail network within Overton Park. This multi-use trail allows pedestrians and bicyclists access to schools, a police station, community center, public library, spiritual and medical facilities, the arts district and Overton Park. The Hampline has also helped reconnect many low-income residents with much-needed amenities and services.

The project, initiated in July 2011 by the Broad Avenue Arts District, Binghampton Development Corporation, Overton Park Conservancy and the City of Memphis, has inspired more than $25 million in investments for building renovations, new businesses, community services and public art. In addition, $10 million in the planned developments are committed for the immediate future.

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

All 15 of Tennessee’s Welcome Centers, which have 13 million visitors annually, became green certified in October 2014. They received the certification for reducing energy, water and material usage as well as increasing recycling at its centers since January 2014.

As the Welcome Centers serve motor vehicle travelers and tourists, its green certification leads by example and enables visitors to be more sustainable as they traverse our state. Visitors can recycle the cans, bottles, and papers that they have from their road trips, make pit stops that use less water thanks to low flow toilets and faucets, have a picnic under a PV array, and learn about how to be more sustainable at home.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association, and the independent environmental consulting company Skye Con, worked with the welcome centers to complete the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association’s Green Certification Program. Prior to this, welcome centers have never been considered for the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association Green Certification. The associations worked together to create green certification requirements based on EPA regulations specifically designed for welcome centers.

A few sustainable activities implemented since January 2014 include updating centers with energy efficient lighting, installing insulation and weather stripping, installing rain barrels for landscaping use, recycling products and setting up visitor recycling areas. The centers monitor electrical and water usage to measure their results. In addition, the Tennessee Department of Tourism Development is providing center employees with continued education about green product training and sustainable best practices. The organizations hope to be a model for other state visitor services, inspiring them to also become more sustainable.

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development and the Tennessee Department of Transportation are displaying their green certification marketing materials at each center, posting messages on center bulletin boards and utilizing energy smart screens to educate visitors and to create public awareness about the sustainable practices being done. Future plans are to utilize these marketing tools to educate visitors on electric vehicles, charging stations and sustainable transportation. Through their efforts, the welcome centers hope to spread best practices and inspire individuals and businesses to be more sustainable in their own endeavors.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The Center of Energy, Transportation and the Environment at the University of Tennessee-- Chattanooga  is focused on applying research to develop clean, renewable energy systems for transportation that will reduce the harmful effects of emissions and promote energy conservation and independence. Along with the University, the Center’s partners are the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority, EVAmerica, the Federal Transit Authority and the Electric Power Board Chattanooga.

The Center’s research activities include electric vehicle testing with the Tennessee Valley Authority, demonstrations on hydrogen as a motor fuel, the conversion of a Saturn Vue car to run on ethanol, and research on wireless charging of vehicles through an inductive power transfer process from coils buried in the pavement.

Waste Industries of Tennessee

Waste Industries of Tennessee in Nashville is the first and only company in Tennessee to use diesel hybrid collection vehicles that produce less CO2 emissions and are fuel and energy efficient.

The company’s two diesel hybrid vehicles, in use since 2012, consume about 50 percent less diesel fuel, emit 55 less tons of CO2 emissions on an annual basis, include brakes that last for the full lifetime of the truck and have an engine that runs at peak efficiency. The vehicles also have RunWise technology, which uses energy from the engine as well as from captured brake energy to propel the vehicle.

Waste Industries GIS department and staff also use Route Smart geocoding and routing programs that allowed them to eliminate more than 1,000 service routes over seven states since 2007, thus reducing fuel consumption, emissions and street wear and tear.

Waste Management, Inc. of Tennessee

Waste Management Inc. of Tennessee in Nashville has a mission to reduce fuel consumption and reach a goal of Zero Tailpipe Emission Vehicles. They have used natural gas collection vehicles since 1992. In October 2013, they began incorporating compressed natural gas collection vehicles to create a Green Fleet. The greenhouse gas savings from the 44 compressed natural gas collection vehicles in their fleet equated to removing 170 passenger vehicles from the road. 

By the end of 2015, Waste Management’s goal is to have 85 percent of its collection vehicles powered by compressed natural gas. A longer term goal is to have all collection vehicles power by CNG. When completed, the impact of the fleet conversion will translate to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions achieved by removing 280 passenger vehicles from the road.

Waste Management also has its own CNG refueling station, constructed in 2014, that fills up to 80 company trucks while they are parked overnight. This reduces operational costs for electricity and labor. Vehicles also save fuel and reduce emissions because they are now programmed to shut down automatically after idling for five minutes. In addition to updating their vehicles, Waste Management has incorporated route optimization software to manage routes and reduce driver times by several million hours each year. Waste Management Inc. of Tennessee has partnerships with the Tennessee Gas Association and Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee.