Displaying items by tag: sustainability

Wednesday, 21 June 2017 15:37

The Big (Green) Apple

Greetings, Socket fans! My name is Michelle Hamman, and I am the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Specialist in the Department of General Services’ Sustainability Division. Last month, I traveled with my daughters to New York City. While there, I saw many interesting examples of urban sustainability, which I’d like to share with you.

 

 

Streetscapes

The most dramatic change since my last visit about five years ago was the public space reclaimed from the streets. In several places in the city, such as Times Square, sections of road have been blocked off from traffic and transformed into pedestrian-friendly spaces with seating and walking paths. Previously unusable pieces of land, like the medians of roads and old, out of use railroad tracks, have found new life in the form of bike lanes, sidewalks, and green spaces. I also noticed that all of these public spaces have recycling with good signage. Elsewhere in the city, I saw solar trash compactors. 

      

Many Nashvillians recently heard about these upgrades. NYC activist and planner Janette Sadik-Khan came to Nashville and spoke about the streetscape overhaul she oversaw in New York. See video of her presentation here.

 

Transportation

Compared to Nashville, there is a great deal of bike infrastructure in NYC. There are bike lanes throughout the city, and many of them are painted green to increase their visibility and create a visual divide between the cars and bike riders sharing the streets. Even with all of these bike lanes, I noticed that there were not a lot of people commuting by bike. This was surprising, as it was perfect weather for biking! I didn’t see a lot of bike racks - most people just lock their bikes to a tree - and I wondered if the lack of safe storage places could be one reason for low ridership.

Here in Nashville, a city ordinance prescribes that new commercial, office, and multifamily residential buildings install bike parking as a part of construction. This law aims to ensure that bicyclists can securely store their rides while out and about. Wondering where all the bike racks in Nashville are located? Find them on this bike parking map.

The bike infrastructure wasn’t the only green transportation option. My daughters and I used the extensive network of public transportation in both NYC and nearby New Jersey to get around. While in the city, we took the subway from place to place, and when we ventured out of the city, we took the train rather than using a car.

 

Renewables

As someone whose job is all about energy efficiency and renewable energy, it was hard not to notice the many places using renewable energy sources like wind and solar. I saw solar panels on top of a FedEx building and mounted on telephone poles throughout New Jersey. One of the more creative uses of renewable energy was a parking space converted into an outdoor seating area with a wind turbine to power the lights.

    

Here in Nashville, eight of our Metro Nashville buildings have solar panels, which produce a total of more than 140,000 kWh of electricity annually. That’s equivalent to taking more than 20 cars off the road for an entire year. (EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator)

 

It is exciting to hear about and see what other cities are doing to improve resiliency, save money, and clean up the environment. We have a lot to learn from what others are doing, but thanks to strong leadership and investments in our future, Nashville is well on its way to being the greenest city in the Southeast!

Published in Blogs
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 19:49

Happy Father's Day, from Socket

Socket would like to wish all dads a Happy Father’s Day this Sunday! No matter how you choose to celebrate the day, there is no more quintessential father-child activity than fishing. What a great way to spend time with dear dad and enjoy the natural beauty of Middle Tennessee’s waterways!

Tennessee boasts 61,075 miles of rivers that contribute to the existence of many thriving diverse ecosystems. (Wild and Scenic Rivers) In fact, our state has the most diverse collection of freshwater fish species in the nation, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency publishes its “Anglers Guide to Tennessee Fish,” with information on many of our fish species.

The first step to a successful fishing adventure is to obtain a fishing license for everyone who is 13 or older, and you can do so through the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s website.  

When getting your fishing gear ready, there are a few steps you can follow to ensure that your trip will be as sustainable as possible.

First, avoid tackles and fishing sinkers that are made out of lead because if waterfowl swallow them while searching for food, these animals can suffer from lead poisoning. Furthermore, if enough of these lead-containing objects remain in the river, they can dissolve and cause elevated lead levels, harmful to the many plants and animals living in that habitat. (USGS

 

Second, consider purchasing biodegradable fishing lines so that if your line ever breaks or you need to cut it and let it sink into the water, it will not stay in our environment polluting the waterway for centuries to come. While a conventional petroleum-based line takes 600 years to fully break down, a biodegradable line can degrade in 2 to 5 years. (EnviroGadget)

 

Socket’s third and final tip is to choose a non-motorized boat if possible to reduce the carbon emissions associated with your fishing trip. Plus, rowing is a great exercise!  

 

Now that you’ve got your license and gear, you may be wondering where the best fishing holes are. Our Tennessee State Parks have a wealth of angling opportunities, and Percy Priest Lake off of I-40 and Old Hickory Lake are also great spots!

We hope you and your family get the chance to enjoy Tennessee’s waterways. Don’t forget to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable state by packing out trash and leaving no trace. 

Happy Father’s Day, from Socket!

Published in Blogs
Wednesday, 28 June 2017 13:35

Public Tour of Fire Station 19

Join us Wednesday, June 28th at noon for a free public tour of award-winning Fire Station 19. Led by sustainable building expert Mike Leonard, the tour will provide an in-depth look at a facility that houses the city's first responders and is open 24/7. The tour features solar panels, EV charging stations, pervious pavers, automatic lighting and controls and much more! Reserve your spot by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!

 

Fire Station 19 Tour

June 28, noon-1pm

520 26th Ave N.
Nashville, TN 37209

Published in Events
Saturday, 10 June 2017 01:05

Lipscomb U. Hosts Nashville Green Tour

The Lipscomb University Institute for Sustainable Practice invites you to learn more about its graduate programs in Sustainability with an informational tour this Saturday, June 10th.

Saturday, June 10 | Nashville Green Tour + Class Visit + Lunch- meet in Bennett 181. 3901 Granny White Pike Nashville, TN 37204
Professor Dodd Galbreath
9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Saturday, June 10th Schedule:
9:00 Meet and Greet / Drinks and snack
9:30 Welcome and Information Session
10:00 Nashville Green Tour
12:00 Return to Lipscomb's Campus & Lunch and Class Visit

Tour Stops:

Lipscomb University Green Features Campus Walking Tour:
1. Ezell Center & LEED Gold Burton Center
2. (LEED in-process) Pharmacy Research Building & Porous Concrete
3. LEED Certified Nursing Building & Porous Concrete
4. Fields Engineering Center Green Nashville Bus Tour:
5. Lipscomb Academy Football Field Parking Lot Bioretention
6. West Fork of Browns Creek Stream Buffers
7. Galbreath Home Solar PV & Bioretention
8. Monroe Harding Urban Forest Restoration
9. LEED ND One City, Bioretention & Shipping Crate Offices
10. LEED Platinum Fire Station 19 & Solar PV
11. LEED Silver Lentz Health Department
12. Complete Street Charlotte/West End Connector & Vanderbilt Solar Car Charging
13. LEED ND Certified Gulch & "Complete Streets"
14. SOBRO - Drive by 29 LEED Buildings (Map Provided)
15. LEED Gold Music City Center & "Complete Streets"
16. LEED Gold Riverfront Amphitheater
17. LEED Platinum Core & Shell Barge Building / Native Landscaped Cumberland Park
18.12th AV Urban Design / 1st Farm to Table Businesses

Learn more and register.

Published in Events
Friday, 02 June 2017 20:26

Celebrate World Environment Day

We’ve all heard of Earth Day, but there is another day designated to remind us that taking care of our planet and its natural resources is important. June 5th is World Environment Day (WED), an idea that started in 1974 by the United Nations and has brought attention to different environmental issues ever since. WED has been hosted by many different nations, from Bangladesh to Brazil, and from Japan to Italy. For 2017, Canada, a nation that is very proud of its natural heritage and diversity, was selected to hold WED’s main celebrations.

Each year, the UN chooses a different theme for WED, ranging from “Melting Ice - a Hot Topic?” in 2007 to “Water: Vital Resource for Life” in 1976. In 2017, the theme is: “Connecting People to Nature.” Socket the dog knows how important getting outside and moving around is. Join Socket this World Environment Day in enjoying the great outdoors!

 

With the accelerated advance of technology and the changes in lifestyle experienced throughout the past couple of decades, the amount of time the average American spends outdoors is on a sharp decrease. According to a study conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association, on a daily basis, approximately one-third of Americans do not spend time outdoors. Of those who do, about half of them spend less than 30 minutes outside. With this in mind, the UN hopes that this year’s WED will encourage us “to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it” (UN). You’ll find lots of tips on how to stay active and connect with nature on Socket’s website.

Due to excessive burning of fossil fuels to power our economy and other anthropogenic actions that lead to the degradation of our environment and its wildlife, the challenges Mother Nature faces are real. With individuals choosing to spend more and more time indoors, with their phones and other technological gadgets as a source of entertainment, many of us seem oblivious to nature’s call. But hopefully, this year’s WED entreating us to connect with nature will inspire more of us to take responsibility to care for the world around us and to ensure that future generations can celebrate WED for many Junes to come.  

So take it from Socket: this summer, get outside and explore the natural beauty that surrounds us. Need some ideas on where to start? Here is a website with some ideas of where to go around Nashville: Tennessee Outdoor Leisure. As you plan a longer getaway, consider a visit to one of our 59 National Parks, located across the U.S.

 

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 03 June 2017 18:06

National Trails Workday

6/3/2017
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM

 

Bring a friend and join us for a walking workday in the Parks as we celebrate our great trails and team up to improve them for all to enjoy. Register online here.

Warner Park Nature Center
7311 Highway 100
Nashville, TN 37221

Published in Events

Friday June 16, 2017

Socket is getting dressed up in style to be honored at the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards Luncheon next month. Department of General Services applied to recognize its project, Fire Station 19. Fire Station 19 is the first LEED Platinum fire station is the entire southeast region. With more than 89 applications coming in across nine different categories, Fire Station 19 won the "Building Green" category. The Fire Station 19 project team and guests will attend a private awards luncheon at the Ellington Agricultural Center on June 16 to recognize their achievements.

Read more about all nine of the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award winners here: http://www.tn.gov/news/50589 

About Fire Station 19

LEED® Platinum 2016

LEED® Scorecard

 

Building Features:

 

  • Platinum level certification is the highest such designation awarded to any fire station in the Southeast and the highest level in the category of New Construction for Nashville Metro Government.

  • Earned LEED® Innovation Points for Exemplary Performance for On-Site Renewable Energy and use of Regional Materials

  • 33% indoor potable water use reduction

  • 43.92% energy cost savings (as compared to a baseline building)

  • 33kW photovoltaic system with a bi-directional meter that first powers then station then feeds back into electric meter for energy credits

  • 15.51% on-site renewable energy generated by solar panels (total energy costs of building offset)

  • 63% construction waste diverted from landfill

  • 16% recycled content in building materials (by cost)

  • 31.85% regional materials used (by cost, regionally manufactured and raw materials extracted)

  • Use of low-emitting materials for all adhesives, paints, carpet systems and composite wood materials
 
Published in Events
Friday, 12 May 2017 14:07

Happy Mother's Day, from Socket

Socket wishes all moms a happy Mother’s Day! While we celebrate our moms every day of the year, this is their special day.

 

Just as our own mothers nurture and nourish our bodies and minds, so does Mother Nature play a leading role in our physical and mental wellbeing. Today, as we each honor our “human moms,” take a moment to consider all that is provided by the complex planetary ecosystem all around us.

 

 

All 7.4 billion of us on the planet rely on clean water, clean air, and healthy food for our survival. The quality of what we drink, breathe, and eat is directly influenced by the environment from which it came. Pure water, clean air free from pollutants, and fresh food that is free from toxics support our physical growth and development.

 

 

Our biology dictates that we spend time outdoors. In fact, the best source of essential nutrient vitamin D is sunlight hitting our skin. Yet few foods in nature contain vitamin D, and more than 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in the nutrient.[i] As the world population migrates to cities and we spend more time indoors, this public health problem is likely to intensify. Luckily, getting your D is very doable – choose to spend 5-30 minutes in midday sun twice per week, take a supplement, and/or enjoy milk fortified with vitamin D, plus eggs and fatty fishes.[ii]

 

 

It is not just our physical health that benefits from time outdoors. City dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas.[iii] Studies show that spending time in nature benefits our mood and mental health and can even reduce symptoms of depression.

 

 

As you can see, there are many things to be thankful for from the natural world. Socket says, this Mother’s Day, honor the mother who raised you, and your Mother Nature!

 

And remember, if you’re thinking of buying mom flowers or chocolate for the big day, consider making the sustainable choice. It’s all explained in our Green Valentine’s Day blog.

 

 

As usual, there is no shortage of things to do in Nashville this weekend. Why not treat your mom to a special mother’s day jazz brunch at City Winery, enjoy free performances by the Blair Children’s Choruses, or relive childhood wonder with the closing performance of "Goodnight Moon" at the Nashville Children’s Theatre on Sunday? Happy Mother’s Day!

 



[i] Cure for Vitamin D deficiency? More sun, less block: study 5/2/17 http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/cure-vitamin-deficiency-sun-block-study-article-1.3130619

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature 6/30/15 http://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/

 

Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 20:52

Resources

Explore resources that educate, engage and enhance sustainability practices in the workplace and at home.

Published in General

Sometimes it takes an outside force to make us look at things in a new light. When Nancy Whittemore became the Director of General Services in 2003, she was faced with not only changing the course of the operational side but the overall attitude of its employees.

With few procedures in place, Whittemore went on to redirect the course of General Services.

Whittemore and her team essentially changed the mantra of the department. “Our goal is to provide high performance buildings,” said Whittemore, “as well as improve job satisfaction and employee performance.”

As with most businesses, Whittemore and her team were charged with lowering operating costs. This meant creating standards for preventative maintenance, energy efficiency in the buildings, and more. “Honestly, we didn’t even call it ‘sustainability’ but that’s what we were doing. As long as you are doing the right things and put in the right business principles, it doesn’t matter whether you call it ‘going green’ or ‘sustainability,’” said Whittemore.

 

Incorporating sustainability within General Services came with the standardization Whittemore and her team were putting in place by addressing problem areas. At the time, there was no preventive maintenance plan in place, so the team had to figure out how to save money to replace mechanicals.

 

Funds were tight, but the department found areas where costs could be reduced with a better plan. “We found that where Metro was putting most of their money was around environmental issues,” said Whittemore.

 

Air quality, dampness and mold, low-performing mechanical equipment – these were all concerns that in the past had just been patched up. “We came up with a solution versus just a Band-aid,” said Whittemore.

 

These solutions included conducting a trash audit to justify a recycling program, data collection and physical inventory for each building. So when General Services was given the responsibility of building management, they were already on the right path.

 

But as with most solutions, it takes a group effort to make General Services run smoothly. Whittemore empowered her staff to try new things to save costs; whether they worked was secondary. “It’s OK here to say you tried this and it didn’t work,” said Whittemore.

 

Now with all hands on deck, General Services can continue to champion the cause of sustainability in Nashville.

 

 

Published in Blogs
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