Socket, Nashville’s Sustainability Outlet is the interactive sustainability education program of the Division of Sustainability for Metro Nashville’s Department of General Services (DGS). Socket educates Metro employees and the general Nashville public about sustainable efforts of both DGS and Metro by connecting them directly to sustainability initiatives while also educating and inspiring sustainable practices at work and at home.
Because General Services’ Sustainability Division leads innovative, green building strategies and practices throughout the department, Socket represents a holistic take on sustainability, incorporating content in eight areas including water, waste, energy, wellness, food, greenspace, mobility and design/build. These eight areas are integrated throughout the department’s projects and operations with the goal to reduce energy, waste, carbon and greenhouse gas emissions while also educating Metro employees and the Nashville community about sustainability.
The Socket program is robust and aims to be Nashville’s sustainability Outlet by being informative, engaging, and accessible anytime, anywhere by website, digital interactive kiosks, social media and community outreach. With live energy feeds, educational videos and games, and sustainable living tips for the community, Socket is creating awareness, changing behavior and engaging the people of Nashville to help shape a sustainable city for generations to come.
Socket the Dog mascot loves being out in the community teaching his fellow Nashvillians about sustainability. Check out our events to find out where you might find Socket next!
DGS has eight facilities with solar panels for a total of 480 solar panels generating approximately 140,000 kWh for calendar year 2017. Track the Department of General Services' live solar feeds by clicking on the facilities below.
The Department of General Services delivers an array of services to all departments and agencies of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County so that they are able to focus and achieve their own missions.
In addition to the services that are so integral to other agencies achieving their missions, General Services maintains a focus on serving citizens. The department directly serves the public with its ADA compliance, Sustainability program Socket, Nashville's Sustainability Outlet, and eBid Nashville programs. Regardless of program area or whether service is being provided to other Metro departments or directly to citizens, DGS staff are guided by a commitment to excellent service, environmental responsibility, conservation and cost reduction.
Our Socket Sustainability Glossary gives you the low down on all the terminology you will need to navigate the Socket website.
British Thermal Unit (Btu)
A British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels. It is the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of liquid water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at the temperature that water has its greatest density (approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit).
Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential.
Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is a set of technologies that can greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new and existing coal- and gas-fired power plants, industrial processes, and other stationary sources of carbon dioxide. It is a three-step process that includes capture of carbon dioxide from power plants or industrial sources; transport of the captured and compressed carbon dioxide (usually in pipelines); and underground injection and geologic sequestration, or permanent storage, of that carbon dioxide in rock formations that contain tiny openings or pores that trap and hold the carbon dioxide.
A carbon credit is a financial instrument that allows the holder, usually an energy company, to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. Credits are awarded to countries or groups that have reduced their greenhouse gases below their emission quota. Carbon credits can be legally traded in the international market at their current market price. The premise of the system is that a government or another body can regulate the total tons of carbon dioxide emitted but is given some flexibility as to how exactly the regulation is accomplished. Carbon credit systems place a cost on carbon emissions by creating credits valued against one ton of hydrocarbon fuel. A carbon credit, then, is essentially a permit that allows the receiver to burn a specified amount of hydrocarbon fuel over a specified period of time.
Chlorofluorocarbons (also known as Freon) are nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine. They are used in the manufacture of aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants. The manufacture of such compounds has been phased out (and replaced with products such as R-410A) by the Montreal Protocol because they contribute to ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.
Climate change is a change in the typical or average weather of a region or city. This could be a change in a region's average annual rainfall, for example. Or it could be a change in a city's average temperature for a given month or season.
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset, or buying enough carbon credits to make up the difference. It is used in the context of carbon dioxide releasing processes, associated with transportation, energy production and industrial processes.
Direct Digital Control (DDC)
A mode of control wherein digital computer outputs are used to directly control a process. A computer control technique that sets the final control-elements position directly by the computer output. Used to distinguish from analog control.
The impact of human activities measured in terms of the area of biologically productive land and water required to produce the goods consumed and to assimilate the wastes generated. More simply, it is the amount of the environment necessary to produce the goods and services necessary to support a particular lifestyle.
Source: World Wildlife Fund
Emissions is the term used to describe the gases and particles which are put into the air or emitted by various sources.
The use of technology that requires less energy to perform the same function. Using a compact fluorescent light bulb that requires less energy rather than using an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light is an example of energy efficiency.
Energy Use Intensity(EUI)
The EUI expresses a building’s energy use as a function of its size or other characteristics. The EUI is expressed as energy per square foot per year. It’s calculated by dividing the total energy consumed by the building in one year (measured in kBtu or GJ) by the total gross floor area of the building.
Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride.
Grid Tied Solar Power System
A grid tied solar power system is a solar powered system which is connected to the power grid. While the sun is shining the photovoltaic solar panels convert the sun’s rays into electricity. Electricity generated by the system can be used for your home and business. Any excess power requirements which your solar panels can not supply will be taken from the power grid. When the power grid is running properly, your home or business will use power generated from your solar panels and/or pull electricity from the grid. If at any time you generate more electricity from your solar panels as your current power requirements this excess power will feed back into the power grid. This excess power fed back into the power grid can give you credits on your electricity bill.
Source: Renewable Energy South Africa
An urban area characterized by temperatures higher than those of the surrounding non-urban area. As urban areas develop, buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. These surfaces absorb more solar energy, which can create higher temperatures in urban areas.
1000 watts, used to measure the energy consumption of large devices.
The SI derived unit of power. Power is the rate at which work is done, or the rate at which energy is expended. One watt is equal to one joule per second. This unit is used both in mechanics and in electricity. The unit was named after James Watt (1736-1819), the British engineer.
Source: Surface Engineering Forum
A measurement of energy - the number of kilowatts generated or consumed in one hour.
Load Shedding (also known as a rolling blackout)
One megawatt (MW) = 1,000,000 watts. Used to measure the output of a power plant or the amount of electricity required by an entire city.
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
A billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. Net metering allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar or wind power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid.
A building that produces enough renewable energy to meet its own annual energy consumption requirements, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable energy in the building sector.
Peak load is the maximum or highest demand of electric power over time. These fluctuations can be measured over various time intervals (day, week, year). By utility definition, it is the single time (usually an hour or half hour) of highest demand throughout the day.
Source: Collins English Dictionary
A type of photocell that changes light from the sun into electricity, used in solar panels
Source: Cambridge Dictionary
A potable water supply is one which is drinkable. Potable water must be free of pathogens (disease causing organisms), have a desirable taste, odor (smell), color, turbidity (cloudiness), and contain no harmful chemicals. Natural water from a river, lake or borehole usually has to be treated to make it potable.
Any energy resource that is naturally regenerated over a short time scale and derived directly from the sun (such as thermal, photochemical, and photoelectric), indirectly from the sun (such as wind, hydropower, and photosynthetic energy stored in biomass), or from other natural movements and mechanisms of the environment (such as geothermal and tidal energy). Renewable energy does not include energy resources derived from fossil fuels, waste products from fossil sources, or waste products from inorganic sources.
Solar Thermal Energy (STE) is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy (heat).
Source: Evergreen Energy
Stormwater runoff is water from rain or melting snow that “runs off” across the land instead of seeping into the ground. This runoff usually flows into the nearest stream, creek, river, lake or ocean. The runoff is not treated in any way; runoff water can pick up and carry many substances that pollute water. Some - like pesticides, fertilizers, oil and soap – are harmful in any quantity. Others – like sediment from construction, bare soil, or agricultural land, or pet waste, grass clippings and leaves – can harm creeks, rivers and lakes in sufficient quantities.
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Consisting of three pillars, sustainable development seeks to achieve, in a balanced manner, economic development, social development and environmental protection.
Source: United Nations
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
Upcycling is taking an item that is no longer needed or wanted and giving it new life as something that is either useful or creative.
Source: Upcycle Magazine
Urea formaldehyde resin is a highly crosslinked thermosetting polymer primarily made up of urea and formaldehyde with formaldehyde acting as the crosslinker. Urea formaldehyde resins are stable, fast curing and highly customizable making them an excellent choice for a wide array of applications, such as decorative laminates, air filtration, coated and bonded abrasives, and wood composites. During the 1970s, urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) was used in many homes. However, few homes are now insulated with UFFI. When formaldehyde is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, some individuals may experience adverse effects such as watery eyes; burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; coughing; wheezing; nausea; and skin irritation. In 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. This finding raised the question of whether formaldehyde exposure could also cause cancer in humans. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure.
VOC – Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds, sometimes referred to as VOCs, are organic compounds that easily become vapors or gases. Along with carbon, they contain elements such as hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur or nitrogen. Volatile organic compounds are released from burning fuel, such as gasoline, wood, coal, or natural gas. They are also released from solvents, paints, glues, and other products that are used and stored at home and at work. Many volatile organic compounds are also hazardous air pollutants. Volatile organic compounds, when combined with nitrogen oxides, react to form ground-level ozone, or smog, which contributes to climate change.
An area of land that drains water, sediment and dissolved materials to a common receiving body or outlet. The term is not restricted to surface water runoff and includes interactions with subsurface water. Watersheds vary from the largest river basins to just acres or less in size.
Being green doesn’t just have to stop when you leave work for the day. Socket has many great tips and resources for you to translate sustainable living best practices into your everyday life at home!
Ways to Save Energy
Turn out the lights when you leave a room or leave home
Saving money on your home energy bills is something we all want to do.There are many things you can do to put a few extra dollars in your pocket each month, while also helping the environment.
Make use of natural light whenever possible.
Leave the lights off. If just 200 people in Nashville found one light they could turn off for 24 hours, they could save as much as 300 kWh. 2,000 people could save up to 2,500 kWh.
Turn your thermostat down in the winter and up in the summer when you leave for work.
Even just a few degrees’ adjustment can make a big difference. Socket recommends keeping the temperature at 68 in the winter and 72 or higher in the summer.
Or buy a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts or can be timed for your schedule.
Unplug electronics when not in use.
This is especially important if you’re going out of town for multiple days
Set your water heater to a lower temperature.
Some water heater thermostats come preset to 140 degrees, which can cost you more money. Make sure your water heater is set to 120 degrees.
This is also recommended to help prevent accidental scalding and burns from water that is too hot – especially important with little ones around.
Do your laundry with cold water. You save energy and your clothes get clean.
90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes toward water heating. (Energy Star)
Be mindful of energy use when cooking.
A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the stove's energy.
Use pots the same size as your burners. Use lids when possible so you can cook at a lower temperature.
Adjust the shades on your windows.
In the summer, draw the shades to prevent summer's heat from entering. In winter, open shades and drapes during the sunshine of the day, and close them when the sun goes down to hold warmth in your home.
Get a home energy audit and look for financial incentives to make energy efficiency improvements to your home.
Various organizations in Nashville offer incentives and other education resources to help make a home energy audit or retrofits more feasible:
TVA Energy Right Solution's eScore Self Audit eScore Self Audit
DIY homeowner energy saving "how-tos"
US Green Building Council's Green Your Home Guide Green Your Home Guide
Ways to Reduce Waste
Avoid disposable items when possible.
Instead maintain and repair durable products or reuse disposable items for different use.
Purchase products with minimal packaging or that are made of recycled materials.
Your consumer choices matter. The more demand for products with sustainable materials, the more affordable they will become.
Bring your own reusable bags whenever you go shopping.
Whether you have to buy some groceries or a new pair of shoes, bringing your own reusable bag is a great way to reduce your waste and carbon footprint.
Reuse or recycle bags and containers whenever possible.
If you can’t find a use for a plastic bag, check to see if your local grocery store collects them or re-use them as trash or doggie poo bags.
Purchase secondhand clothes, furniture, and other items.
Buying something used means that no virgin materials had to be extracted and used to produce whatever you are purchasing. It’s the second “R” in “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”!
When you buy something that is second-hand, you stop it from ending up in the landfill by reusing it first. After you’re done with it, try to pass it along to someone else so this sustainable cycle can live on.
Recycle everything you can in your curbside recycling.
Remember, curbside recycling is picked up once a month in Nashville and it is single stream so you don’t have to sort out different types of materials.
If you don’t have curbside recycling, Nashville has multiple recycling drop-off sites located throughout the county.
Stop food waste.
Learn tips to save food, including freezing techniques, shopping guidelines, meal planning, and more from SaveTheFood.com
Compost remaining food and yard waste.
Compost is great nutrition for your garden and prevents valuable organic materials from rotting in the landfill.
Home Compost Bins, Digesters and Compost Kitchen Containers are available for sale by Metro Public Works
Public Works offers instructions on how to compost
Public Works The Dirt on Composting booklet
Public Works offers advice on composting with worms
Don’t throw hazardous waste in the trash.
Hazardous waste includes items such as gasoline, pesticides, oil based paint and electronics.
Davidson County residents can take these items for recycling to the household hazardous waste facility. See this list of all acceptable items at the household hazardous waste facilities.
Report illegal dumping or littering to Public Works
Participate in planned Neighborhood Clean-ups or organize your own.
Adopt a Street, Highway, Stop or Stream
Take part in one of the following beautification efforts through Public Works
Ways to Save Water
Use Metro Water Services as a community resource.
Metro Water Services offers Community Education resources on water safety and conservation.
Only run the dishwasher when it’s completely full.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, plug up the sink or use a wash basin instead of running water
Choose the shower over a bath and keep it short.
Showering uses less water than a bath if you watch the time.
Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving.
This way you are only running the tap when you actually need water.
Install low flow faucets and showerheads.
Low flow faucet aerators and showerheads are inexpensive, maintain water pressure, and save you water and money.
Low flow appliances may cost more upfront, but the water you will conserve will save you money down the road.
Fix household leaks immediately.
Small household plumbing leaks can quickly add up to gallons a day. Wasting water needlessly uses electricity.
In large cities, the biggest draw on electricity is supplying water to residents and cleaning up the water after it has been used.
Take a good look at your water bill every month. Unusually high use could mean you have an undetected leak.
Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator.
Have cold water at the ready instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
Only run the laundry machine when it’s a full load.
Or if you have the option on your machine, set it to the appropriate load size selection.
Sweep your driveway rather than hosing it off.
Use a hose with a cut off nozzle when washing your car or watering your plants.
Keep your stormwater drain clear of leaves, grass clippings and other organic debris.
Make water smart landscaping choices.
Choose native, low-maintenance or drought-tolerant landscaping that require less water. Mulch plants to reduce water loss.
Understand how much water your landscaping or garden really needs so you don’t over-water.
Water lawns and gardens early in the morning or after dark to reduce evaporation.
Make rain your friend.
Capture rainwater for garden use by buying a rain barrel. Incorporate rain gardens and bioswales into your landscape design.
Read Metro Water Services’ Rain Gardens for Nashville – A Resource Guide to learn how to build your own rain garden.
Dispose of your medication safely.
It’s important not just to save water, but to keep Nashville’s water clean. That’s why it’s critical to dispose of medication at home safely and not just flush it down the drain.
Learn how Metro Water Services can help you with Safe Medication Disposal.
Ways to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Start a backyard garden.
Or if you don’t have a backyard, find your local community garden and grow your own healthy fruits and veggies.
Visit the Nashville Farmers Market or your local farmers’ market.
Farmers’ markets are not only an awesome resource for healthy, fresh, local food, but they are a great way to support your local economy.
Nashville Farmers’ Market is open seven days a week and located right in the heart of downtown!
When possible, eat organic.
Eating organic can have many benefits not just for you, but for our environment too. While you consume less pesticides, antibiotics, artificial ingredients and growth hormones, organic farms discharge less harmful chemicals to nearby waterways, thus contributing to a healthier and safer ecosystem where biodiversity can thrive. (USDA)
Reduce your meat consumption.
The livestock industry accounts for a substantial amount of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. (Time)
According to the American Dietetic Association, eliminating animal products and by-products from your diet in an appropriately-planned way can be “healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” (American Dietetic Association)
Take advantage of the Nashville Public Library “Be Well” program.
Learn how to live healthier by visiting the Be Well website.
Get outside and visit a Metro Parks and stay active.
Use the NashVitality App.
Stay up to speed with the latest on active living in Nashville by downloading the app.
Take the stairs.
If 200 of us all chose the stairs for only 10 flights per week we could save 36 kWh and burn a collective 6,000 calories. That is like 20 cheese burgers. Move that up to 2,000 of us and we save 250 kWh and burn a collective 60,000 calories.
Ways to Engage
Teach the kids in your life about sustainability!
Ask teachers to sign up for a tour of Public Work’s Recycling Education Station.
Public Works provides tours to classrooms at one of their recycling facilities so you can see how Nashville recycles in person! Sign up here.
Sign up for volunteering opportunities on sustainability-related projects and take the whole family. Volunteering resources include:
Howard Office Building is home to DGS’ Center of Responsible Energy (CORE), a nexus for innovative and collaborative work towards smart and sustainable solutions. The CORE’s Delta Room is an interactive control room that serves as the nerve center for monitoring and planning all of DGS' energy needs. The CORE enhances collaboration across various disciplines to develop and implement best building management practices.
It integrates the building management software, controls, metering and data analysis of DGS-managed facilities in order to ensure that the buildings are contributing to the goal of a sustainable Nashville. The CORE features a 12-panel monitor display system that allows DGS engineers to place images on their desktop onto the display, allowing others to see a possible building issue that is clearly visible to all. The CORE is also home to the DGS Sustainability team and a collaborative workspace that allows workers to share information effectively.
LEED® stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. LEED® Certification is granted by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED® buildings are resource efficient, use less water and energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A LEED® building provides health benefits to its occupants as well as to the environment. LEED® buildings must meet criteria in six categories, including Sustainable Sites; Water Efficiency; Energy & Atmosphere; Materials & Resources; Indoor Environmental Quality; and Innovation & Design Process.
A Metro ordinance states that Metro buildings of 5,000 square feet or larger must be built or renovated to LEED® Silver or greater levels of certification. In accordance with the ordinance, General Services is proud to have built 21 LEED® certified buildings in its portfolio, including 12 LEED® Silver, 8 LEED® Gold and 1 LEED® Platinum. LEED® facilities under construction include the Criminal Justice Center and the Metro Nashville Police Department Headquarters and Family Justice Center. Additionally, each year, General Services submits a report to Metro council detailing the energy, water, and financial savings resulting from these high performance buildings. Read the 2017 High Performance Building Report.
General Services' new Division of Sustainability is made up of experienced staff.
As Director of General Services, Nancy Whittemore is responsible for the divisions of Building Operations and Support Services (building operations, ADA compliance, construction and design); Sustainability; Fleet Management; and Administrative Services (postal, printing, surplus property and departmental finance and HR services). Nancy began her career in public service in 1978 as Director of the Knoxville-Knox County Foster Grandparent Program. She joined state government in 1982 as a member of the Governor’s State Planning Office staff. From 1983 until 1991, she was the Department of Human Services, Director of Community Services where she managed a variety of state and federal programs. In 1991, Nancy moved to the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration where she was the Director of Resource Development and Support. In that role, she was responsible for the offices of Contract Review, Program Accountability Review, Criminal Justice Programs, and the Tennessee Commission on National and Community Services. In September 2001, Nancy joined the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County and was appointed Assistant Finance Director. Nancy has served as the Director of the Department of General Services since January 16, 2004. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and a graduate degree in Public Administration from Tennessee State University.