Jennifer Westerholm

Jennifer Westerholm

Jennifer Westerholm

Monday, 29 January 2018

The many acres of greenspace managed by Metro General Services represent beautiful landscapes and help protect our water quality. A couple of the more significant parts of the landscapes are trees and green infrastructure.

Tuesday, 09 January 2018

January 2018 -- Nashville, TN

 

 

On June 16, 2017, the Metro Nashville Fire Department's Station 19 was awarded the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award in Building Green for its LEED Platinum Certification. Station 19 is the first fire station to achieve this level of LEED certification in the entire southeast, a major achievement for both the Fire Department and the Metro Nashville Department of General Services. 

Read the Tennessee Public Works Magazine article here.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

2017 was a doggone good year for Socket! Read about new achievements and annual highlights of the Department of General Services' Division of Sustainability.

Download The Socket Bulletin Vol. 4 PDF

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Photo by Katherine Bomboy

 

The following information is provided as information for our users and does not constitute an endorsement of any product, service or individual by Socket or the Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County.

 

Nashville has many great options for locally crafted, sourced, fair trade and sustainable gifts for the holidays. Here are some suggestions for the season:

Festive Food

If food is a festive favorite for your friends and family, consider creating a menu with savory or sweet courses sourced from local Tennessee products available at local groceries, boutiques and the Nashville Farmer’s Market under the Pick Tennessee logo.

 

The bounty of offerings for your holiday party or family gathering include fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, honey, meats, poultry, eggs , sauces, condiments, seasonings, et cetera. Go by and check out the produce in the Farm Sheds or head inside the Market House to see the seasonal offerings of local food purveyors and vendors in the heart of downtown Nashville. Some local non-profits have upcoming holiday markets to inspire your holiday feasts, too!

 

Consignment, Charity and Thrift Stores

Nashville also has a plethora of consignment stores and thrift shops that offer a second time around for clothing, jewelry, shoes, furniture and household goods. 

Photo by Katherine Bomboy  

Nashville boasts a gold mine of stores to find reasonably priced, sustainable gifts for your friends, family and pets. Making thrift and consignment purchases for the holidays helps keep like-new and valuable items out of Nashville’s landfill, making them a more sustainable option for gift-giving. It also prevents the extraction, transportation, and use of new materials to create brand new products. Buying secondhand and local also keeps carbon emissions down by eliminating long-distance shipping and packaging. Go one step further and consider alternative or no gift bags or wrapping paper. I use a colorful scarf or reusable tote bags to disguise holiday bounty for family and friends.

 

Sustainable Experiences and Tours

Consider giving an experience rather than a thing this year. Sustainable Travel experiences are possible with a little planning. Websites like the Tennessee Department of Tourism offer suggestions for local and regional travel and experiences that will get family and friends outside, active and engaged with people and places. With all the mountains, rivers, parks, caves and attractions available in Tennessee, there is an experience or tour for everyone. For example, did you know you can go on a free tour of the original Oak Ridge Manhattan Project sites and get a history lesson in the WW II development of atomic weapons that occurred in the area? Learn more about Department of Energy Facilities Public Bus Tour here.

 

Green Gifts

How about a green gift idea that is actually green. Indoor plants bring joy year round and have numerous health benefits for home or office. Interior landscapes improve air quality by reducing carbon dioxide levels, reducing stress, improving memory and mental well-being and naturally adding coolness and humidity to the air through a process called evapotranspiration (USGS, Water Cycle). Don’t worry, there are several varieties of indoor plants that are easy to take care of for those without a green thumb. Many local groceries and nursery carry house plants that have co-benefits for humans such as Lavender, Ene Plant and Peace Lily. Add a colorful bow to the potted plant and you have a gift that will add beauty and health for months and years to come. With all of these great gift ideas that support our local economy and health and well-being, you are ready to give green this holiday season! Happy Holidays!

Photo by Katherine Bomboy

 

Katherine Bomboy, blog author, is the Division of Sustainability’s Fall 2017 Intern and a Master’s Degree Candidate in Sustainability at Lipscomb University. She is fascinated by how people make decisions surrounding sustainability issues. You can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Tours by and for city employees

Welcome to the Connect Metro page of the Socket website! In Fall 2017, General Services piloted a new program for its employees designed to connect, inform, and engage staff via tours of innovative departmental projects. All employees were invited to register for one or both tours. Based on the highly successful pilot, General Services hopes to expand this program to additional city departments in 2018.


eBid Tours

At eBid, over $60 million in revenue has been generated through the online sale of nearly 94,000 surplus and seized property items. Come learn how everything from mannequins and sneakers to motorcycles and even homes get sold through eBid. This online auction was among the first of its kind in the U.S., and has been a model for other cities. Kenneth Eads, who started the program, will be our tour guide. One of the few revenue-generating Metro operations, touring eBid is a fascinating experience!

SIGN UP by clicking on the date/time you prefer.

Fire Station #19 Tours

Fire Station #19 is the first LEED® Platinum fire station in the entire southeast region! This facility is a showpiece for green and sustainable building practices. The fire station won both the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award in Building Green and the U.S. Green Building Council award for "Most Successful Community Engagement" in 2017. Come and see a working fire station in action and discover all the innovative features -- from solar panels to rain gardens -- that make Fire Station 19 special.

SIGN UP by clicking on the date/time you prefer.

 

Questions? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Jennifer at 615-862-5043.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Fall is finally here! But what do you do with all the brightly-colored autumn leaves and summer growth now faded?

Fall leaves can cause damage to lawns and storm water drains if not properly mulched, composted or disposed of. Blowing or raking leaves into the street causes problems for you, your neighbors and the city if storm water drains get clogged and cannot adequately drain rain water. Make sure to rake up and clear the area around ditches and storm drains. If you have a neighborhood association, remind your neighbors to keep the area around the neighborhood drains clear of debris and trash. Whatever goes into storm water drains goes directly into our city’s streams and rivers.

 

Storm water drains clogged with Fall leaves and other trash can cause flooding and other road hazards.

Fallen leaves, what professionals call “leaf litter,” accumulate under trees can suffocate grass and other plantings. Here are four easy options to properly dispose of your fallen splendor. All you need is a rake or electric blower, a battery-powered lawnmower, biodegradable paper lawn and leaf bags, and a few helping hands.

 

1)      Once the fun of jumping in leaf piles is over, you can use your electric lawnmower to shred leaves into mulch size pieces that then can be spread over flowerbeds to provide nutrients all winter.

2)      Another option is to collect the mulched leaves and add them to your compost. Add fresh cut grass or a compost activator to get the compost pile cooking! For more information on composting go to the Metro Public Works site. If you don’t have a composter (or want to start your holiday shopping early), you can purchase one at the Omohundro Convenience Center.

3)      Residents in Metro Nashville’s Urban and General Services Districts can have their brush and yard waste collected at no charge. For Fall and Winter pick-up dates see the 2017-2018 schedule. All leaves must be bagged in biodegradable paper bags for collection. You can purchase biodegradable paper lawn and leaf bags at your local grocery or hardware store. Metro will not pick up yard waste in plastic bags. Remember that you can always take your bagged leaves to one of Metro Nashville’s drop off sites.

 

4)      If you want to give back to your community, non-profits like The Nashville Food Project (TNFP) would love to use your bagged leaves to feed their gardens. TNFP invites residents to drop off bagged leaves and pine needles at their Wedgwood Urban Garden. For more specific information go to https://www.thenashvillefoodproject.org/contact/ or call 615-460-0172.

Please protect our waterways and your property by properly disposing of leaves. Most importantly, have fun. Happy Fall, from Socket!

 

 

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

 Halloween is full of creativity and spooky fun. This year, make sure the holiday is a treat – not a trick – for the planet, by following these six Green Halloween tips.

1.       Secondhand or Upcycled Costume

 

Even scarier than the pricetag of a brand new Halloween costume may be environmental cost it exacts. It takes energy, water, and other natural resources to make costumes. Imagine buying new clothes that you only wear once; that’s essentially what many of us do at Halloween. Instead of buying new, consider sourcing your costume from a second hand store, or creating your own out of items you already have around the house. This is an opportunity to save money, get creative, and guarantee a one-of-a-kind costume!

2.       Sustainable Décor

 

Plastic spiders, glittery witches, and synthetic skeletons are fun, but their production, shipping, and disposal all take a toll on the environment. If you deck out your place for the holiday, consider investing in some good quality decorations that you will use for many years to come. Or, get crafty and use items that you already have at home or can source secondhand.

The number and variety of secondhand stores in Nashville keeps growing. While getting great deals, you may also be supporting a nonprofit’s community work. For secondhand art supplies, fabric, and more, check out SmART! and Turnip Green Creative Reuse.

3.       Walk or Bike to Trick-Or-Treat

Instead of hopping in the car, choose the method of transportation that’s healthier for you and the planet. Walking or biking to your trick-or-treat destination or party saves fuel, prevents air pollution, and gives you exercise. Who knows, you may even burn enough calories to justify an extra piece of chocolate!

For a list of bike share stations in your area, check out Nashville B-Cycle.

4.       Reusable Bags 

Just like for grocery shopping or buying clothes or home goods, don’t forget your reusable bags for each of your trick-or-treaters. Like a Christmas stocking, a personalized cloth Halloween bag can become a holiday tradition. Plus, a bag with your name on it helps deter candy thieves… maybe!

5.       Eco-Friendly Candy

 

Speaking of candy, choose to give out sweets with a conscience. Fair trade chocolate or hard candies made with natural sugars or organic ingredients are better for the planet and the candy consumers. Some candy makers are even using recycled content wrappers and vegetable based dyes and inks. A quick online search will yield a wealth of healthy(ish) Halloween treats that are eco friendly(er).

6.       Compost Your Pumpkin

 

When the fun is done and all that’s left is a tummy ache from too much candy, be sure you compost your pumpkin. In fact, those leaves in your yard, the dead flowerheads, and your kitchen scraps can all go in to the compost. Doing so keeps these valuable organic materials out of the landfill. In landfills, organics produce methane as they decompose anaerobically. By composting instead, you ensure that food and yard waste becomes a valuable soil amendment in the form of compost.

Metro Nashville Public Works now provides free drop off of household food waste at their East and Omohundro Convenience Centers. And the city collects yard waste, such as brush and leaves, four times per year. If you can’t wait, you can also drop your yard waste free of charge at one of three locations.

 

Happy Hallow-Green – from Socket! As you observe holidays throughout the year, remember that Socket encourages you to take a sustainable approach to celebrating, whatever the season.

Thursday, 05 October 2017

In honor of Energy Efficiency Day 2017, Freddie Adom, the Department of General Services' Energy Manager, provides a window into how his work supports energy efficiency and conservation on a daily basis.

 

Energy is defined simply as the ability to do work. Computers use energy to run programs for users to create documents. Light bulbs use energy to emit light that helps building occupants see their environment. HVAC systems use energy to keep us warm inside of buildings during the winter, and cool during the dog days of summer.

Energy consumption, however, comes at a cost. Energy for facilities is typically purchased through utility providers, which can be expensive, especially for larger facilities. Also, the harvesting and conversion of natural resources into useful energy comes at a cost to the environment. From excavation and deforestation to the production of greenhouse gas emissions, the need for energy has led to environmental impacts observed across the globe. The need to reduce energy consumption is evident; however the need for comfort inside the building should not be dismissed. Comfortable environments allow building occupants to perform their work without distractions, and ensure that customers have a pleasant experience.

As Energy Manager for the Department of General Services, I would like to take the opportunity on this Energy Efficiency Day 2017 to give an insight into what the department does to manage energy use -- and promote energy efficiency -- in our facilities. 

Energy data is recorded and stored for every General Services'-managed facility. This includes energy use from our electricity, natural gas, and water utilities. Along with knowledge of building operations, we are able to take the data and determine the energy efficiency of the building. Entering the utility data into EnergyStar's Portfolio Manager allows us to quickly calculate the building's Energy Use Intensity (EUI), which shows the amount of energy used per square foot over the course of a year. This metric helps General Services determine which buildings to focus on in our energy reduction efforts. For our LEED-certified buildings, General Services uses the energy data to develop the department's annual High Performance Building Report. This report contains energy data for the LEED buildings and compares usage to facilities of similar size and building type.

Table 1. Energy use for the Clifford Allen Building

 

Over the course of time, building equipment becomes less efficient. Bolts and fan belts loosen up, filters become clogged with dirt, and valves become more difficult to open. All of these scenarios cause HVAC equipment to use more energy than normally required. If left unattended, the building energy use can increase significantly, because the HVAC system needs to work harder to get the same results.  Of course, let's not forget to mention that these inefficiencies can lead to equipment failure over time. To combat this, General Services employs a practice called preventative maintenance. Building equipment, such as boilers, chillers, and air handler units, are serviced every quarter. Technicians have a checklist where they verify the condition of the equipment. Maintenance is performed on the equipment, and parts are replaced when they are identified to be in poor condition. Technicians then verify that the system as a whole and its components are operating smoothly. This practice not only keeps equipment operating efficiently, it also extends the lifetime use of the equipment, and possibly the entire facility.

Energy management is also conducted through the use of building automation systems (BAS). BAS allows the building equipment to be controlled and operated through computers. The BAS systems for over 35 General Service’s buildings are pulled in to the Center of Responsible Energy (CORE), located in the Howard Office Building. BAS controls HVAC, lighting, and generator systems for our facilities. In these programs, the desired operating conditions are set into the program, and the program operates the equipment at these settings. The settings for these systems have a strong influence on how much energy is consumed by our buildings. BAS controls activities such as the scheduling for lighting and air conditioning throughout the day, temperature settings for specific parts of the building, and keeping rooms at an appropriate humidity level. Another example would be exhaust fans turning on in the garages of fire stations in order to expel fumes when carbon monoxide levels reach a certain point. As we gain further information about a building's energy use, settings may be changed in the BAS to improve upon the facility's energy efficiency. These systems also track the performance of individual components; that way we can look into that piece of hardware before it causes further problems.

During extreme weather conditions in the summer and winter months, facilities all across TVA's electrical grid use more energy to cool and heat their buildings. In order to prevent the grid from overloading, TVA, through EnerNOC, offers facilities the opportunity to enter into their demand response program. In this program, TVA sets aside a number of hours (typically around four) and asks participants to curtail their energy use during this time period. General Services has six facilities that participate in demand response. Power consumption is reduced in these buildings without compromising comfort for occupants. Engaging in this program helps keep the TVA grid strong and resilient, especially as more and more people move into Nashville and the middle Tennessee area.

One of the most important ways to reduce the need to purchase electricity from utility providers is to have a sustainable, regenerating energy source. Fortunately, the Sun is an abundant supplier of energy and solar photovoltaic systems are a great way to harvest that energy for homes and buildings. General Services has eight facilities that feature roof-mounted solar panels. Seven of these facilities are under the Green Power Provider's agreement with TVA and NES, where the solar panels are supplying clean energy to TVA's grid. The other facility, Fire Station #19, which is under the Dispersed Power Production agreement, uses the electricity generated by its solar panels directly, and purchases the remaining need for energy from Nashville Electric Service. Depending on the time of year, 13%-16% of Fire Station #19's electricity use is provided by its solar panels.

As a team, we strive to improve our buildings and make sure that everyone (building occupants, customers, employees, and the Nashville community) is placed in the best environment. To do this, we have to take into account many factors, with energy being a key component. Thankfully, I work with a great team of people who work diligently, are very knowledgeable, and are always willing to share thoughts and opinions. No one person can do this on their own, especially with the number of buildings that we operate and manage. To manage energy effectively, takes knowledge and understanding. With our staff, I am in a great place to do so.

 

Freddie Adom is the Department of General Services' Energy Manager.

 

 

Friday, 29 September 2017

Would you like to enjoy the benefits of using solar energy for your home electricity needs? Have you investigated how to make the switch to clean energy, but then gave up when you had more questions than answers? This blog post will discuss the options for solar photovoltaics (PV) in Middle Tennessee.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has developed an initiative called “Shrink Your Dorm Print,” which aims to encourage incoming college freshmen to save money while saving the planet. To achieve this goal, the ACEEE has developed a list of steps that can be taken to ensure that you moving into a new dorm doesn’t lead to polar bears moving out of their homes. Besides checking ACEEE’s recommendations, here are some other ideas from Socket:

 

School supplies: You would be surprised with how many cool, usable supplies you can now find that are made from recycled materials right here in our country. Look for recycled notebooks, planners, and even pencils and rulers. If you buy your school supplies at a store near you, don’t forget to bring your own reusable bags!

 

 

Textbooks: Why buy a textbook that you will use for only a few months? Take advantage of the opportunity to rent your books for an entire semester for very reasonable prices. Check out this website that allows you to compare prices from different rental companies. Pro tip: always read reviews on the companies to ensure they are reliable.

 

 

Laundry: If you weren’t a laundry expert before arriving at college, don’t worry. Socket guarantees you’ll become one in the next four years! With laundry, there are a few important things to consider for sustainability. First, wash your clothes with cold water; your clothes will come out just as clean and you’ll save 90% of the energy consumed by your washing machine, which goes towards water heating. Second, buy eco-friendly detergents - here is a list of potential options to make it easier for you to go green while going clean. And last but not least, many of the laundry machines you will encounter in college do not have a setting for choosing different load-sizes. So make sure you pile up a good amount of stuff before running your laundry cycle. You’ll help save water, energy, money, and time!

 

“New” furniture: If you think you need to buy more furniture pieces than your dorm will offer you, think again! Do you really need an extra night stand, for example? If so, try to purchase a reclaimed one from a vintage shop, garage sale, or flea market near you. In this way, you’re reusing someone else’s furniture and cutting down on waste.

 

Personal hygiene: Nowadays, it’s easy to fine personal care product-lines that also promote the health of our environment, so you can keep yourself and our planet feeling clean and fresh. Look for environmentally-friendly shampoos, conditioners, and other body care products that are biodegradable and/or organic. There are event toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups! Many companies now use renewable energy and other ecologically-sound business practices, so read labels before you buy. Finally, keep your showers short and sweet; 5 minutes should get the job done.


 

Personal health: Maintaining your personal health and planetary health go hand-in-hand. The notorious “freshman fifteen” is real. Avoid packing on the pounds by filling your plate with fresh foods and healthy plant-based options. Also, drink lots of water from your own BPA-free reusable water bottle. Lastly, avoid driving. Instead, try walking or biking your way around campus. This way, you’ll burn calories instead of fossil fuels. Don’t have wheels? Nashville has a great bike share program called B-cycle where you can easily rent a bike from 36 stations around town.

 

 

Avoid food waste: Only take what you need. Don’t get extra food just because your meal-plan has already been paid for and you therefore feel like the food is free. In case you do end up putting more on your plate than you can handle, carry a food storage container with you so you can save the rest of your meal for later.


Coffee: College can sometimes become overwhelming and many students rely on coffee to get through the day, especially when midterms and finals come around. Although there are healthier ways to keep yourself awake than by drinking coffee, if you just love it too much, make sure you purchase a reusable coffee mug for your daily pick-me-up.

 

As you head to college this fall, remember Socket’s tips for shrinking your eco-footprint and staying healthy and happy. Now, hit the books!

 

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