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
[iii] Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature 6/30/15 http://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/
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.
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.
DGS has nine facilities with solar panels for a total of 1,344 solar panels generating approximately 526,000 kWh annually. Track the Department of General Services' live solar feeds by clicking on the facilities below.