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Awards Categories

The Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards has ten categories. Each category represents a different area of environmental stewardship and sustainability. Applications in each category are judged on seven different judging cateria areas, which can be found on our Awards Criteria page.

The Agriculture and Forestry award will demonstrate innovation in implementation of practices supporting sustainable agricultural and/or forestry activities. Nominations may include but are not limited to programs and projects that incorporate environmentally-friendly asset management, water and stormwater management, soil conservation practices implementation, fertilization approaches, farming techniques, processing, byproduct and materials management, transportation, and other food systems production techniques. Special consideration will be given to projects that result in the production of  more profitable and resource efficient, higher quality, equitable, and healthier agricultural goods or services as well as those projects that enhance communities, build resilience and prioritize partnerships.

2020 Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Cumberland County

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry created a Strike Team over 18 years ago to solve the problem of the Hemlock Woolly adelgid (HWA), a non-native invasive insect causing extensive mortality and decline in the Eastern and Carolina Hemlock across Tennessee. Hemlock forests can be found in 39 counties throughout Tennessee, totaling approximately 150,000 acres both on public and private lands. Over the past six years, the HWA Strike Team has been staffed by three to six seasonal personnel. Due to the tremendous success of the Strike Team’s approach, a full time Strike Team coordinator was hired in 2019 to oversee the continuity of operations and provide planning and administrative support to the seasonal team. The team has treated over 53,800 hemlocks over 4,500 acres and facilitated the release of over 10,000 predator beetles reared by the Lindsay Young Beneficial Insect Laboratory at the University of Tennessee as well as hosted dozens of workshops to private landowners about the importance of hemlocks.

The Buiding Green award recognizes innovation in siting, structure design and use, deconstruction and construction techniques, supply chain materials sourcing, operation efficiency (water use, energy efficiency), longevity, flexibility of use, protecting occupant health and productivity, and reduction in overall carbon footprint as applied to the built environments and land use projects or developments. A project using in-fill, brownfields, underutilized land, preservation of green spaces in site design, or repurposing of existing structure will receive special considersation.

2020: FedExFamilyHouse, Shelby County

The FedExFamilyHouse project established a state-of-the-art multi-family housing facility for families with children receiving treatment at LeBonheur Children's Hospital. FedExFamilyHouse provides free, comfortable accommodations to out-of-town families of patients at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. Accommodations at FedExFamilyHouse include 75 private suites, community kitchen and dining areas, play and lounge areas, laundry rooms, media and library rooms, and outdoor gathering spaces. The FedExFamilyHouse received LEED Gold certification in 2019 with exceptional achievements that include a 24 percent improvement on the baseline building performance rating and purchase of 35 percent of their energy from green power sources. For materials and resources, the facility was able to incorporate 10 percent recycled content building materials, 20 percent regionally extracted, harvested, recovered, or manufactured materials, and reached 50 percent diversion of construction and demolition debris. The facility reduces potable landscape water use by 50 percent, and indoor water use by 40 percent.

The Clean Air award will demonstrate measurable progress in reducing hazardous air pollutants, volatile organic compounds, acid rain precursors, greenhouse gases and other air emissions sources, outdoor exposure to toxic air contaminants, and/or air deposition loading to land and water. Nominations may include programs and projects that incorporate installation of pollution prevention technologies, logistics, and/or operational change that result in improved air quality. Cap and trade activities will not be considered.

2020: Shelby County Health Department, Shelby County

The Memphis Area Rideshare program has made positive impacts in Shelby County by reducing car emissions and raising community awareness of alternative transportation. The program works with area employers to organize employees in carpools and vanpools, with a goal of improving air quality through the reduction of single occupancy vehicles on the road. In 2019 the program increased the number of vanpools at the Memphis VA Hospital and started new vanpools at a federal prison facility and Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. The work of Memphis Area Rideshare has resulted in a grand total of 52 new vanpools in Shelby County. The vanpools have taken approximately 2,914 cars off the road which is a monthly fuel saving of $30,180.00 and reduction in carbon monoxide of approximately 5.05 tons per month.

The Energy and Renewable Resources award recognizes projects that further the widespread use and adoption of alternative fuels or novel domestic fuel sources, energy conservation and energy efficiency strategies, or innovative energy or alternative fuel devices or techniques. Nominations may also include projects that increase the energy efficiency of buildings or equipment, the use of environmentally-friendly energy production technologies, developing advanced energy technologies, using renewable energy resources or the use of innovative technologies that will reduce dependence upon traditional fossil-fuel-based energy sources. Special consideration will be given to nominations that demonstrate a comprehensive approach to energy issues and highlight the relationship between the environmental benefits and the associated social and economic benefits.

2020: City of Knoxville, Knox County

When the City of Knoxville launched its Energy & Sustainability Initiative in 2017, it quickly became obvious that converting the city’s roughly 29,000 streetlights to LEDs would yield huge benefits for both the environment and the city’s bottom line. The streetlights were the city’s largest municipal use of electricity, and the bill to “keep the lights on” topped more than $4 million annually. Started in 2017 and completed in 2019, the project reduces streetlight energy consumption by more than 65 percent. Additionally, since the lifespan of LEDs is far longer than the former high-pressure sodium streetlights, the project will also significantly reduce maintenance costs and outages in neighborhoods and other critical roadways. As a result of this project, utility bills for streetlighting will decrease by $3 million per year and associated maintenance costs will decrease by $2 million per year. The city will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. The new LEDs provide a crisp, bright light and help limit light pollution which minimizes impacts on nocturnal wildlife, reduces glare and sky glow, and improves nightscapes.

The Environmental Education and Outreach award recognizes an outstanding education and/or outreach program that promotes environmental stewardship, increases citizen awareness, and results in enhanced environmental protection. Nominations may include demonstration projects, awareness campaigns, or programs allowing communities to address environmental issues such as waste reduction, energy and water conservation, or non-point source pollution.

2020: green|spaces, Hamilton County

green|spaces of Chattanooga, in partnership with Build Me a World, launched a workforce development program, to prepare at-risk young adults for construction and energy services industry jobs. Two training programs – one in Baltimore and one in Chattanooga – aim to help generate pathways out of poverty for young adults through job readiness training, community organizing and outreach training, and technical training in the green building field. Affordability of utilities is one of the greatest challenges to low-income neighborhoods in Chattanooga. This program brings solutions to issues of energy efficiency in low-income areas as well as a pipeline for employment into the green economy.

Build it Green (BIG) is a 12-week program that will prepare young adults from low-income communities for entry level jobs in the energy services field, while equipping them to engage low-income residents in sustainability practices and programs, particularly best practices in residential energy efficiency and weatherization programs. The program consists of six weeks of community engagement, personal development, and job readiness training, and another six weeks of technical training in weatherization and community sustainability. Program participants also receive weekly job shadowing and off-site job training opportunities, paid job shadowing opportunities, and other benefits, such as OSHA 10 Certification and Lead Abatement Certification. Leading up to completion, trainees are provided with job placement assistance with local companies. Since 2018 the program has graduated 38 individuals with 80 percent placement and retention in employment.

The Material Management award recognizes conservation and protection of natural resources and cost reduction through waste prevention, reducing toxicity, re-use, recycling, composting, environmentally-preferable purchasing, supply chain dynamics, as well as product design and stewardship. Nominations may include projects addressing input change, product reformulation, and production process redesign, conservation techniques, material re-use and beneficial land application. Special consideration will be given to nominations that demonstrate a comprehensive approach and highlight the relationship between the environmental benefits and the associated social and economic benefits.

2020: Paint Oak, LLC., Hamblen County

A former electronics recycling tenant at the Paint Oak, LLC property in Hamblen County stockpiled millions of pounds of electronic and other wastes within a 130,000-square-foot warehouse in 2015. The owners of the Paint Oak facility remediated the stockpile of cathode ray tubes (CRT) as part of a redevelopment effort associated with the large industrial complex the building was a part of. The remediation effort was made more complicated and difficult by the presence of lead contaminated dust, which had been spread throughout the area due to improper material handling. Paint Oak disposed of over 8 million pounds of CRT waste, over 180 tons of special wastes, and recycled over 360,000 pounds of various electronic wastes. These efforts resulted in the safe and environmentally sound management of the stockpiled wastes as well as the transformation of the brownfield site into a potentially productive industrial facility with associated positive economic impacts. To date, Paint Oak has invested approximately $2.4 million in remedial efforts, facility upgrades, and storm water improvements.

The Natural Resource Conservation award recognizes innovative approaches, methods, and achievements in preserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing Tennessee's natural resources in a variety of environments. Nominations may span a wide range of activities that address Tennessee;s natural, geologic, or ecological resources include in open space, wetlands, estuaries, biological diversity, endangered species, and preservation of land or conservation. Projects may also include efforts that occur in Tennessee's rural, suburban, and urban areas that result in preservation, restoration or development of green spaces, greenways, or other major public projects that result in parks or natural aquatic features for communities. Special consideration will be given for integrated approaches that benefit Tennessee's natural resources, preserve cultural resources, and enhance communities.

2020: Johnson County

The Doe Mountain Recreation Authority (DMRA) was established by the Tennessee General Assembly via the Doe Mountain Recreation Authority Act of 2012 to conserve the land, waters and wildlife on Doe Mountain. Toward that end, a master plan was adopted to foster economic development for the Tennesseans by developing and operating a multi-use, family-oriented outdoor recreation area on 8,600 acres now commonly referred to as the Doe Mountain Recreation Area. With a total land area of 8,600 acres, Doe Mountain Recreation Area towers above Mountain City, the seat of Johnson County, and spans nearly 10 miles from town limits south to Watauga Lake. Research conducted by The Nature Conservancy has identified the region as a globally significant biodiversity hotspot, a major North American migration corridor for plants, animals, and birds, and home to a network of watersheds vital to both people and nature. As of today, the DMRA has achieved the following accomplishments: 1) successfully operates more than 60 miles of recreational trails; 2) has secured operational funding through a variety of private and government grants to further expand the trail system and guest amenities; 3) employs full-time and part-time local staff; 4) resulted in five local business start-ups and counting, and; 5) became a designated Adventure Tourism District in January 2020.

In 2019, Doe Mountain Recreation Area became a nationally registered Forest Carbon Project, with approximately 100 monitoring plots established across the mountain to measure the forest’s current carbon storage levels. While commercial timber harvesting is now prohibited on Doe Mountain, the minimal removal of trees for trail construction, scenic overlooks, and the DMRA’s usual daily operations are permitted within the carbon registry rules. The carbon project is providing the DMRA with an eight-year income stream for the recreation area’s trail and infrastructure improvements while conserving Doe Mountain’s visually stunning landscape for future generations. From June 2019 through January 2020, carbon credit sales revenue generated over $300,000 for the DMRA.

Doe Mountain is home to a network of former logging and mining roads that now serve as the recreation area’s multi-use trail system. Inherent with any trail system, especially those which include an off-highway vehicle use component, comes a responsibility to properly manage trails to reduce soil erosion and subsequent impacts to water quality. The DMRA has raised multiple private and government grants to identify and address trail erosion areas, close and/or re-route problematic trails, and ensure adequate stream crossings are in place to protect the mountain’s water resources.

The Sustainable Performance award recognizes a holistic approach to achieve sustainability and integrated environmental values and conservation of natural resources into comprehensive, decision making, and long-term leadership from management of businesses and facilities. Nominations must demonstrate achievement in multiple operational areas such as facility lifecycle, supply chain management, community engagement, employee involvement, and product or service design and delivery.

2020: Stanley Black & Decker, Madison County 

Stanley Black & Decker (SB&D) Jackson is on a journey to ‘Create a More Sustainable World’ and reduce their impact to the environment. The Jackson plant has pursued this commitment to sustainability by reducing energy consumption and water usage, adopting green energy sources, and becoming landfill free in 2019. Since 2019, SB&D has doubled the amount of recycling streams within the facility by diverting 10 million pounds of waste from landfilling and adding a process to reuse powdered paint which reused another 21,000 pounds of waste material.

The Jackson plant embraced the challenge to reduce water usage while growing production, implementing measures which reduced water usage by 12 percent. To accomplish this, SB&D installed low flow fixtures, automatic flushers on the toilets and automatic faucets, and reduced water usage in the shop paint line which resulted in a savings of 200,000 gallons since installation. The Jackson plant has also completed several energy and carbon reduction projects which include LED lighting, motion sensor fans, chiller replacements, and a chiller controls upgrade. Through these different measures and commitments, SB&D has reduced energy usage by a total of 3 percent, the facility’s carbon footprint by 42 percent compared to a 2015 baseline, and still managed to grow the business.

Beyond SB&D’s commitment to facility sustainability, it has also been a major partner in the community. In 2018 the facility donated over 250 pounds of food through its annual food drive. SB&D staff have planted trees on their property as well as distributed trees to employees and community members. One of the most remarkable programs has been the Local Options and Opportunities Program (LOOP). This program is a unique work-based learning opportunity where 40 students attend a modified school day for academic credit through an online learning lab model with teacher support and work in the manufacturing facility the remainder of the day. This experience takes place at the manufacturing site instead of the traditional high school. SB&D is one of four manufacturers in Jackson that participate in LOOP.

The Water Quality and Conservation award will demonstrate measurable progress and innovation in improving water quality, preserving water quantity, enhancing aquatic resource integrity, or employing practices in water treatment or water resource conservation and protection. Nominations may include programs and projects that incorporate water resource restoration, conservation and protection, installation of pollution prevention technologies, alternative water supplies, and facility or system design, logistics, or operational change that result in improved water quality or more efficient water use. Special consideration will be given to projects that integrate innovative solutions and technologies in improving water quality and increasing conservation and demonstrate potential for applicability by others.

2020: Milcrofton Utility District, Williamson County

Milcrofton Utility District was awarded the first United States pilot for the new Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) system by Kamstrup Water Meters of Denmark. The Kamstrup water meter is an ultrasonic water meter that more accurately measures water movement across a wide spectrum of flows. Over the course of an eight-month period in 2019, all water meter and transmission tower infrastructure was replaced for the utility district’s entire 94-square-mile service area to report the data back to a central hub.

Hourly data collection and monitoring allows for the district to more efficiently pinpoint specific issues, such as where a leak may be occurring. Each weekday, a customer location that has registered 24 hours of continuous usage is contacted either by direct phone, voicemail, or email, communicating that a potential water loss issue may be occurring. During these interactions, Milcrofton customer service representatives have an opportunity to discuss the issue, including some “quick” steps to determine continuous usage source and ways to conserve water in general. Many customer calls reveal that water has been accidentally left running. In other circumstances, irrigation systems may be working improperly. Customers were not previously notified until they received the next monthly water bill. Real time notifications and early intervention have saved customers tens of thousands of gallons of valuable water that previously was wasted or lost along with a monetary savings.

The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement award is given to an individual who has devoted at least 20 years of effective and valuable service to Tennessee's environmental protection or conservation stewardship. Past winners have demonstrated notable personal achievements in various areas, such as natural resource management, conservation, education, public service, and political support toward Tennessee's conservation and/or environmental protection.


Kathy Glapa

Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices


This Page Last Updated: April 6, 2021 at 10:09 AM