Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards Recognize Positive Environmental Impacts Across Tennessee
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau presented the 2014 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards at Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville today, recognizing all honorees whose efforts have made a positive impact on Tennessee’s natural resources.
“Today’s announcement celebrates Tennesseans who are committed to our environment,” Haslam said. “Recognizing these innovative efforts that help conserve and protect our natural resources is important in keeping our communities strong and economically viable. I am proud to work alongside each and every one of the winners announced today.”
The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect our environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation. In its 28th year, this year’s awards 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.
“It's important that we recognize the people and organizations that work so hard to protect our environment, while also teaching others about sustainability,” added TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The better we take care of our environment, the better our quality of life, which directly impacts how Tennesseans live, work and play.”
A panel of 21professionals representing agricultural, conservation, forestry, environmental and academic professionals judged more than 75 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground achievement, innovation and public education.
The 2014 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award winners are:
The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award
The Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Winfield Dunn, former Governor for the state of Tennessee from 1971 to 1975.
Winfield Dunn’s fingerprints and name are on some of the most important environmental protection and natural resource conservation laws in the history of Tennessee. During the early 1970s, Gov. Dunn’s Administration was not only responsible for moving Tennessee forward with landmark conservation progress in Natural Areas, Strip Mining Prevention, and critical land acquisition like Savage Gulf, but Gov. Dunn also oversaw passage of the TN Water Quality Control Act in 1971. That law has served as the cornerstone protecting our state’s waters and was a model for others states as they developed their own water protection programs. During this time, there was also much public support for protecting unique natural areas, and Gov. Dunn worked in concert with key citizen groups that believed places like Savage Gulf and Radnor Lake were worth protecting and preserving.
On May 15, 1971, Governor Dunn signed into law the Natural Areas Preservation Act to protect special places in Tennessee with significant scenic, scientific, geological, or recreation value. This made Tennessee one of the first southern states to enact natural area preservation legislation. The Natural Areas Preservation Act of 1971 protects land in perpetuity and, to date, a total number to 84 natural areas with more than 120,000 acres are now protected by law.
Many of the things Tennessee communities celebrate and benefit from today, such as clean, abundant water and protection of unique natural areas like nowhere else in the world, can trace their roots back to the critical work accomplished by Gov. Winfield Dunn.
Category: Excellence in Building Green
Crash Pad Hospitality (Hamilton County) –The Crash Pad, a boutique hostel, and Flying Squirrel, a neighborhood bar and restaurant continue their goal to be an environmental leader in the Chattanooga area. In 2012, the Crash Pad became the World’s first LEED Platinum hostel, and in 2013, they partnered with the City of Chattanooga to help solve stormwater concerns on Johnson Street, a beaten down and forgotten street in front of their businesses. With progressive collaboration between the public and private sectors, the Crash Pad and surrounding facilities are examples of how urban developments are improving Chattanooga's stormwater and flood management. The innovative design included the use of engineered soils and pavers to increase infiltration of rain water. The road was built on a three-foot-deep gravel bed intended to hold the first inch of rain water then brick pavers were placed on top to allow the water to percolate down into the ground, filtering the whole time. The Crash Pad was awarded the 2012 Precast Concrete Institute Award and was originally a Brownfield rehabilitation site.
Category: Excellence in Clean Air
City of Kingsport (Hawkins and Sullivan Counties) – The City of Kingsport began their endeavor over six years ago. Since the first three propane conversions in 2008, they have added several other propane vehicles and their own private refueling infrastructure. Today, their program has grown to over 40 vehicles that run on propane, which includes police cruisers, work trucks of several types, and propane-powered mowers. In addition, they have several hybrid vehicles, including one heavy-duty hybrid bucket truck, as well as three all-electric Nissan Leafs, one of which is a police car used for code enforcement. The gasoline project alone has saved the city almost $27,000 in fuel costs. Over 36,000 gallons of gasoline use has been eliminated and 44,000 gallons of cleaner-burning propane has been used reducing their CO2 emissions by over 85,000 pounds (43 tons).
Category: Excellence in Energy and Renewable Resources
Whites Creek High School (Davidson County) – Students from Whites Creek High School recently drove across Tennessee on fuel that they made from agriculture product, soybeans. They were able to achieve this by using 15 bushels of donated soybeans and converting them into biodiesel in their energy laboratory at the high school. They were able to extract 12 gallons of biodiesel from their process which allowed them to drive across Tennessee from Kentucky to Alabama in a Ford F250 farm truck. Along the
route, they traveled to other high schools and the students taught other FFA members the mechanics of biodiesel production with their mobile lab. Whites Creek High School has a three-year program called Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability and Logistics. During the three year program, they study wind energy, solar energy, biodiesel, ethanol, the hydrogen car, nuclear energy, greenhouse gas, and have hands on experience on the adjacent farm to the high school.
Category: Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach
Boone Watershed Partners (Carter, Sullivan and Washington Counties) – “Jacob's Project” is a multi-faceted program that started out from the tragic death of Jacob Francisco. In 2004, Jacob
died from complications from e-coli exposure when he was six years old. Desiring to prevent other’s similar suffering and loss, his family has embarked upon this growing education and awareness program that has risen over $60,000 and includes: ETSU Foundation for Jacob Francisco Lectureship Series, Quillen College of Medicine; Stop Foodborne Illness, a national nonprofit public health organization dedicated to safe food, advanced education and assistance for victims of foodborne illness; ongoing educational programs that have reached nearly 2,000 local schoolchildren to date; and collaboration with the Boone Watershed Partnership and the Johnson City to develop an environmental education park at Sinking Creek wetlands. As a result, the Sinking Creek Restoration Project eliminated twenty-four septic tanks to sewer connections, repaired four septic systems outside of city limits, fenced a tributary flowing through a cattle pasture, and expanded wetlands by 2.1 acres by the end of September 2013. Educational signs explain the probable causes of the contamination to Sinking Creek and how it is being restored. The park also provides information about the plants, animals, and the geographical and geological features within it. The restoration of Sinking Creek and the development of an environmental education park is a perfect legacy for how Jacob lived: exploring, learning, caring.
Category: Excellence in Environmental Education and Outreach/Schools
Jackson Madison County (Madison County) – Liberty Technology Magnet School “Farm to Tray” Program teaches science, math and responsibility to its students by growing fresh produce for Liberty and five other district school cafeterias. Students learn the science behind growing a variety of produce that is served to students, teachers, and staff. In addition to providing high quality produce to the Liberty campus, the student-grown food is purchased by the Jackson-Madison County School System Nutrition Department and distributed to other schools. By locally producing the food, pollution associated with trucking and highway transportation is avoided. It also arrives immediately after harvest to the lunch room table, so nutritional value remains high. Last year alone, students grew 2,664 heads of Rex Bibb lettuce, 573 pounds of cucumbers, and 695 pounds of tomatoes. To promote education awareness, display boards and signage proudly state that the food is locally grown by Liberty Tech students.
The program is self-sustaining and currently operates three greenhouses. Each greenhouse focuses on hydroponic and aquaculture production. The greenhouses act as an educational class room and business venture tool for the high school students. To ensure quality and safety, the students learn and follow USDA protocol for Good Agricultural Practices. The program provides produce to seven selected JMCSS elementary schools. Liberty students take freshly grown produce to the elementary schools and teach a class on nutrition to the younger students. Teachers at the elementary schools reported that more fresh fruits and vegetables were being consumed as a result of the teen’s visit and cafeterias experienced a 25% increase in the number of salads and vegetables selected for lunch by children pre-K through 1st grade and lower food waste.
Category: Excellence in Land Use
J.A. Street & Associates, Inc. (Sullivan County) – The Davis Pipe Site in Sullivan County utilized a 60-acre parcel of land for fabrication of welded stainless steel and alloy pipe and fittings from 1977 to 2004. The site sat vacant for eight years. In 2012, the site was approved for a Brownfield redevelopment by way of Birch Street Properties, LLC. The first Resource Conservation and Recovery Act brownfield agreement in the State of Tennessee with the cooperation and collaboration of the TDEC Division of Solid Waste Management, TDEC Division of Remediation, Region IV EPA, Sullivan County officials and J.A. Street & Associates – the result of a true public/private partnership. The site contains seven permanent industrial buildings and several secondary structures, including an office trailer, guard shack, diked containment area, three wooden sheds, and an engineered liner system that covers a closed-in-place hazardous waste management unit. Surveys indicated that there was not significant contamination and that it was suitable for restricted redevelopment. This project has developed numerous public and private relationships. Birch Street Properties has developed relationships with the county government, the local community, and the business community. A special relationship has developed between Birch Street Properties and a local church outreach program that is occupying one of the buildings. The church outreach group assists with general site maintenance in lieu of paying rent for an open space. This private/public partnership has allowed these businesses to operate on site and employ 60-plus persons which in turn contribute to the economic base of the small town of Blountville.
Category: Excellence in Materials Management
Cormetech, Inc. (Bradley County) – Cormetech’s highly automated, state of the art SCR catalyst manufacturing facility is located in Cleveland, Tennessee. The high-tech and flexible manufacturing process produces high volumes of catalyst for worldwide emissions control applications in coal and gas fired power plants as well as petrochemical and refinery processes. Continuous Improvement initiatives that were completed in 2013 include: catalyst waste reduction, hazardous waste stream elimination, module paint elimination, and recovery and reuse of excess liquid solutions. Efforts in 2013 identified and redirected tons of catalyst material that was destined for landfills. This catalyst waste is now reprocessed into their manufacturing process. Catalyst waste refers to product that has experienced any level of processing beyond the raw material, but does not meet first quality assurance standards. Recovery and rework of this material will result in roughly $100,000 annual savings in raw materials. The total number of hazardous waste streams was reduced from seven to two.
Category: Excellence in Natural Heritage
CRJA-IBI Group – High Ground Park (Knox County) - High Ground Park transformed once neglected and overgrown remnants from the Civil War into a park of beauty and substance, preserving its integrity as a historic resource and providing the public with an open space and a rich cultural asset. The newly constructed 39-acre passive use park captures Fort Higley, a former Civil War Fort. Parking with a trailhead and trail system include interpretive exhibits that guides visitors to the fort comprised of earthworks constructed by the Union Army days before Knoxville's most well-known Civil War battle, the Battle of Fort Sanders.
The firm Carol R. Johnson Associates was hired by the Aslan Foundation to develop and plan and program for the site. The outcome of these planning efforts is High Ground Park which opened in 2013. The park not only preserves and enhances the native landscape through low impact design, but also protects high-integrity remnants of Civil War defensive emplacements such as rifle trenches, a cannon redoubt and strategic military lines of sight. The parking lot is comprised of pervious asphalt; site lighting at the parking area consists of energy efficient LED fixtures with renewable wood bases; a seeded stone aggregate sidewalk guides visitors to a stone trailhead and welcoming area where stacked stone site walls and columns serve as a more formal entrance into the site; and a traditional double rail wood fence runs along the primary pathway. Most invasive species were eradicated which had overtaken the forest. This clearing along with new, native plantings, resulted in higher quality woodland. Where there was once a tangled mat of invasive vegetation hiding one of Knoxville's most culturally significant landmarks, now sits a high quality park providing the public with opportunities for learning and an appreciation of nature and history.
Category: Excellence in Sustainable Performances
Bridgestone Americas: Tires4Ward Program (Davidson County) - Bridgestone Americas made the commitment to capture one spent tire for every new tire the company sold. This commitment spanned all product categories from 15” fitments on cars like the Prius to the massive agriculture and mining tires that are measured in feet and not inches. Bridgestone Americas collaborates with the River Network, a conglomerate of approximately 2,000 state, regional and grassroots organizations who protect our nation’s waterways. The assistance Bridgestone provides in picking up the tires that are pulled from natural areas and proper recycling is at no cost to any clean up group. The Tires4Ward program partners with over a hundred non-profit organizations, citizen groups, and communities nationwide. To date, they have supported over 200 clean-ups and sent nearly 70,000 tires recovered from clean-up activities to various valuable use markets like rubberized asphalt, mulch, and athletic surfaces.
Pursuit of Excellence Recognition
Chattanooga Airport: Pursuit of Excellence (Hamilton County) – Over the past 40 years, Chattanooga has transformed itself from one of the most polluted cities in the nation to one of the cleanest. More than six years ago, The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority pledged to reduce its environmental footprint and started small by initiating sustainable practices both on the airfield and within the commercial terminal. The CMAA received the 2013 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award for Sustainable Performance. Since then, they made significant strides including lighting improvements and pavement rejuvenation, the installation of a 2.1 megawatt solar farm which generates the equivalent of 85 percent of the airport’s energy consumption, the first aviation facility in the world to achieve LEED Platinum certification, along with two LEED Gold certified hangars, installation of gate electrification equipment, a national water quality demonstration project, and a terminal renovation. In February 2014, the airport received the prestigious “Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award”. In addition to these major projects, the airport has developed a recycling program to reduce waste and the airport provides recycling bins throughout the terminal and in office areas. Materials recycled at the airport include paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastic, light bulbs and debris from maintenance, construction and demolition projects.
For more information about the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program, please visit http://www.tn.gov/environment/gov-awards.shtml.
Editor’s Note: The attached photo features this year’s Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Winfield Dunn. Suggested cutline: Former Governor Winfield Dunn receives the 2014 Robert Sparks Walker Lifetime Achievement Award from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (right) and TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau (left) during the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards luncheon on June 23 at Ellington Agricultural Center.