Displaying items by tag: nashville

Thursday, 03 August 2017 13:40

Intern's Sustainability Journey

Julie Hornsby was a 2017 summer intern through Opportunity Now with the Department of General Services, Division of Sustainability. She shares her personal story about her interest in sustainability.

 

I have spent most of my summer working as an intern with Socket, which has been an amazing learning experience. I am a rising senior at Vanderbilt University, where I am majoring in Civil Engineering, with a focus on environmental issues. After I graduate, I hope to work with sustainable urban planning here in the rapidly-growing Music City. With this blog post, I hope to shine light on the journey I have had so far and how my experiences have led me to where I am sitting today, in the Division of Sustainability of Metro Government’s Department of General Services. I am very grateful for the opportunity to see up-close the steps Nashville is taking to become a more environmentally-sound city. I would like to thank the Opportunity Now program for providing me with the financial resources that allowed me to stay here this summer to work with something about which I am very passionate.

The Beginning

At the age of 13, I watched a documentary that changed my life forever. As someone who spent the first few years of her life on a farm, living among cows, horses, and dogs, I always felt that my connection with nature ran deep in my veins. But by the age of 4, I was living in a big city, and the animals and trees that once surrounded me quickly turned into cars and concrete buildings. Life went on and although one might think I was becoming one of those “city kids,” I continued to call myself a nature-lover while having weekly debates with my mom about how caring for animals was more important than caring for people, an idea she could never understand. 

In 7th grade, my school decided to take a field trip to the movie theater so we could all watch “An Inconvenient Truth”. I could never have guessed that the 1 hour and 36 minutes I spent looking at that big screen would define me for the rest of my journey on earth.         

While growing up, my mom would always tell me that God puts each one of us on this planet for a reason and that every single individual has a mission they need to accomplish before they pass away. At 13 I got a glimpse of what my mission was. My eyes were finally open. Climate change was an issue that could lead to the end of nature as I knew and adored, and I was not about to let that happen.

The Middle

Fast forward 5 years and I was a senior in high school sitting in one of my favorite classes ever: “Sustainable Economy and Living”. My teacher decided to bring a guest speaker to tell us some stories about his experience with tree-spiking. He talked for about 45 minutes and said many interesting things, but it was the very last part of his presentation that had the most impact on me. In an attempt to appease a group of high-schoolers who were about to embark on their college journeys in just a few months, he said we didn’t have to go around spiking trees to make an environmental statement. To make a positive difference in the world, we could start by changing just a few things in our daily lives. Specifically, he wrote 3 things on the board:

1.)    Become a vegetarian

2.)    Take 5-min showers

3.)    Never buy new clothes again

My eyes were fixated on that board. I had been doing research on how to “go green” since watching that documentary in 7th grade and I considered myself an eco-master. I had become a vegan on my 17th birthday. I was addicted to recycling. I always brought my own reusable bags to the market. I begged my mom to buy only organic produce. My showers lasted no more than 3 minutes. I always chose to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I ensured that all of our paper products at home, including paper towels, toilet paper, printer paper, etc., were all made of 100% recycled materials. And last but not least, I had given up my allowance in exchange for my dad agreeing to switch our energy provider to Green Mountain Energy so that our home could be powered by renewables, which added an extra cost to our monthly utilities bill.

With this in mind, I could put a check next to the first two items of my speaker’s list. But never again buying new clothes?? I absolutely adored shopping for new outfits with my mom and for some reason, I had never once stopped to think about how purchasing a new t-shirt could have a negative impact on the planet of which I took such good care… or at least I thought I did.

So, after all, what was so wrong with new clothes? Well, just like everything else, manufacturing a piece of clothing requires energy, water, and other raw materials needed, such as cotton, in addition to all of the resources and pesticides that go into growing such crops. Thus, when choosing to buy clothes that are second-hand, no virgin materials have to be extracted from nature and used to produce whatever you are purchasing. Also, most of clothes today are produced abroad, in countries that tend to have poorly enforced environmental laws. In China, for example, about 18% of the country’s industrial water pollution can be traced back to textile dyeing and treatment.

Furthermore, I soon realized that purchasing second-hand clothing meant giving new life to something that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill, making thrift-store shopping the ultimate form of recycling. When I became a vegan over 5 years ago, I felt like I had taken up a full-time job as an activist, which was a wonderful feeling that made me feel like a powerful teenager at the time. Whenever I chose to replace my hamburger for a local, organic veggie burger, I was standing up for what I believed in. Adding the challenge to never again buy a new piece of clothing to my list of tasks as a self-proclaimed full-time activist made me feel that same sense of power that veganism had brought about, so soon after I got home from school the day the tree-spiker had visited my class, I announced to my family that the gifts under our Christmas trees would never again look the same as they had for 18 years – and indeed they haven’t. 

The End, At Least For Now

Throughout my life, teachers always called me a perfectionist, which I soon learned was more of a warning than a compliment. Before I knew it, the “never buy new clothes again” rule grew a little out of proportion in my hands. For me, those words soon became “never buy anything new again”. And that’s just what I did! From my room furniture, to my shower-caddy, to my kitchen appliances, down to the socks on my feet, everything I purchased since that one class almost 5 years ago belonged to someone else before belonging to me.

The funny part is to see my friends and my entire family stressing over what to get me for Christmas or other special occasions. While my friend Jacquie so generously hands me down outfits she no longer uses, my aunt always writes me a letter trying to explain whatever gift she is sending me in the mail is sustainable: “Hey darling, this pair of earrings was made from wood scraps from a barn in …..”. It’s hilarious and it makes me feel very blessed to have such wonderful and supportive people around me. Although moments like this lead to a lot of laughter, they can also make me feel bad for causing so much inconvenience, but then I remind myself of what my momma taught me.

We all have a mission. If my life choices can, in the very least, influence my friends and family to think about the environmental impacts of their actions and the power we all hold as consumers, then I can believe that, at least for now, I seem to be walking the path that was drawn for me.  Join me, as I try my best to replace the carbon footprint humans are known for… leaving behind only the footprints of my own bare feet walking across our natural lands. 

Published in Blogs
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 19:55

Nashville Welcomes All Its Rowdy Friends

July 5, 2017 -- Nashville, TN

Like the country music that made it famous, the city of Nashville, Tenn., has been through some changes in recent years.

Just as the “Nashville sound” of Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline gradually gave way to the more raucous and glitzy contemporary country music of Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift, so has the city itself gone from a quiet little town of less than 180,000 in 1960 to one of the fastest growing urban centers in the South, now with more than 650,000 people and an estimated 85 to 100 more arriving every day.

Read the Sustainable City Network article here.

Explore the full issue here.

Published in In the Media

June 16, 2017

Mayor Megan Barry has issued the following statement on the selection of Metro General Services Department Fire Station #19 as winner of the 2017 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award in the Building Green category:

“Congratulations to the team responsible for designing, constructing and managing Metro General Services’ Fire Station #19 for earning the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award as a LEED Platinum facility built to the highest sustainability standards,” said Mayor Barry. “Constructing high-quality, sustainable facilities like this helps move Nashville toward our goal of being the greenest city in the Southeast, while reducing energy costs and saving taxpayer dollars.”

Read Mayor Barry's full statement.

 

Published in In the Media
Monday, 01 May 2017 19:30

Remembering the Flood of 2010

Every year on May 1, we mark the anniversary of a natural disaster that devastated Nashville, mourned 11 lives lost, saw $2 billion in damage, and ultimately brought our community closer together. Out of the rain that fell that day – 13.5 inches in 36 hours – was born a greater resiliency, an engaged citizenry and stronger social cohesion.

Published in Water

From its construction as an early center for learning in 1860, Howard School was a haven of education. Yet despite its heritage of academia, the building sat vacant during most of the ‘70s until city officials decided to use it for office space.

In 2008, Howard Hall was transformed into Howard Office Building and is once again a center for education. Only this time, it is teaching visitors the art of sustainability.

In November 2010, General Services completed major green renovations of Fulton Campus, including Howard Office Building. In order to achieve LEED® Silver certification, Howard Office Building’s sustainability features include rooftop solar panels with a display in the lobby showing the electricity produced.

Other sustainable building features within the framework of the Howard Office Building include:

 

  • Use of native plants and reuse of stormwater runoff

  • Use of T5 bulbs, dimmable ballasts, day lighting controls and occupancy sensors

  • Use of regional materials such as ceramic tile made in Crossville, Tenn.

  • Updated HVAC equipment and ventilation systems

  • Low VOC paint, adhesives and glues

 

One of the rarest sustainable features of the building are the reuse of the existing structure and site. General Services was able to maintain the historical features of the building while achieving significant building performance gains. The Howard Office Building follows a template that increases the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use energy, water and other materials.

 

Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 01 November 2016 19:23

General Services is LEED®ing the Way

When the Green Ribbon Committee was launched back in 2008, Nashville was set on course to let sustainability guide the city’s future.

With that came the decision to require new buildings over 5,000 square feet to become LEED®-certified.

 

Today, the Mayor’s Livable Nashville Committee and General Services’ new Sustainability Division plan to continue that work and continue to incorporate LEED into new and renovated Metro buildings.

The LEED® rating systems were established by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, and were developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED® committees.

 

LEED® certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

 

As an internationally recognized mark of excellence, LEED® provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

 

In November 2010, General Services completed construction on its first LEED® facilities, with a major renovation to the Howard Office Building and Lindsley Hall. The renovation included a 30 kW solar photovoltaic system with a display in the lobby showing the public the electricity produced from the panels.

 

With Lindsley Hall, General Services was able to maintain the historical features of the building while achieving significant building performance gains. The campus parking lot includes low impact development measures, such as pervious pavement and natural plantings.

 

The Howard Building served as a school until 1969. Metro acquired the building in 2000 and utilized the space for several city services including Social Services until renovation began in March 2008. The $39 million renovation of the building took nearly four years to complete. The 145,00 square feet building also houses the city's Technology Information Services and Finance Department in addition to the county clerk and property assessor's office. Home to three elected officials, two Metro departments and the Center for Responsible Energy (CORE), HOB is a leader in environmental performance.


Now General Services manages over 21 LEED®-certified facilities and continues to renovate and construct new buildings to the rigorous LEED® standards. Learn more about our LEED® facilities here.

 

Published in Blogs
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