In 2008, Mayor Karl Dean announced a goal to make Nashville the greenest city in the Southeast.
That charge spurred a host of efforts to ensure the city continues to have clean air, clean water, open spaces, public transportation infrastructure and green energy practices – all of which will maintain Nashville’s status as a highly livable city while improving its green scorecard.
To help devise a strategic action plan to keep Nashville moving in the right direction, the mayor established the Green Ribbon Committee on Environmental Sustainability. This dedicated group of volunteers has invested thousands of hours getting public input and mining that data for a plan of action.
In one example, more than 1,800 Nashville residents participated in an online survey.
“The timing was right for this to take place. We were very impressed with the public response,” says Dr. Randy Lowry, co-chairman of the Green Ribbon Committee and president of Lipscomb University. “In April 2009, we presented the mayor with the results of our findings – more than 50 concrete suggestions from four different subcommittees – out of which will come a cohesive policy."
“We were also surprised by the many programs already going on in city departments,” Lowry adds.
For example, a city ordinance has established a voluntary procedure for green building permits and green certificates of occupancy, recognizing sustainable design among area buildings.
And a number of downtown Nashville buildings are sprouting green roofs. Across the street from the Metro Courthouse, the Nashville Public Square project converted a ground-level parking lot to a subterranean garage topped by a 2.25-acre green roof that also captures rainwater and stores it in a tank to use for on-site landscape irrigation. The project won a Green Roof Award of Excellence in 2007 from the Green Roofs for Healthy Cities organization.
Another green project involves the once-blighted, now-revitalized area of downtown known as the Gulch – a hip shopping, dining, entertainment and residential district. This area became the first neighborhood in the South – and only the 13th worldwide – to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Neighborhood Development certification from the United States Green Building Council. Developers received confirmation of the award in January 2009.
Likewise, Vanderbilt University, with seven LEED-certified student-housing structures, boasts one of the highest concentrations of LEED-certified buildings on any campus in the Southeast. The team that developed the buildings was led by Street Dixon Rick Architecture, which, incidentally, powers its Kenner Avenue offices with solar energy from 72 rooftop photovoltaic panels that have the potential to generate 12 kilowatt hours of green energy.
The Pinnacle at Symphony Place, located across from the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville’s SoBro District, is a commercial high-rise that incorporates numerous green features. With an acre of green roof, EnergyStar-compliant roofing material, a water-harvesting system, recycling program and preferred parking for energy efficient vehicles, the building is scheduled to obtain LEED-Silver certification – the first downtown building to do so, says James Trone of Nashville Commercial/Cushman & Wakefield Alliance, leasing agent for The Pinnacle at Symphony Place.
“We’re also connected to the Shelby Street Bridge that hooks into 20-plus miles of greenways for walkers and bikers,” he adds.
Nashville’s extensive parks and greenways rank among its major livability assets and foster recreation, air and water quality, alternative transportation, green space and overall community health, says Metro Parks Greenways Director Shain Dennison. Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park, the Stones River Greenway, Richland Creek Greenway and the stunning new Cumberland River Pedestrian Bridge are among the trails that provide access to the city’s rivers, streams and natural areas.
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