Sure, there are lots of ways for your business to go green, but is your city up to par on going green? Nashville, Tenn. is one city that is making a big effort to be kinder to the environment.
Nashville is often called “Music City” or the birthplace of country music. It’s also a major government center and healthcare hub. The downtown is vibrant, friendly and teeming with pedestrians. It’s a great city to work, live or play in.
A City-Wide Effort
Since April of 2010, when mayor Karl Dean created the Office of Environment and Sustainability, Nashville has officially been going green. Even before that, however, builders were working on LEED-certified buildings. Nashville’s downtown neighborhood has been growing rapidly in the past decade and more growth is forecasted. A new convention center and several high-rise condominium buildings have joined the skyline.
Nashville is a relatively small urban area. Commuters rarely experience significant traffic delays. For those on the east side of town, a commuter rail is available. It delivers riders right downtown. Government workers can jump on a purple or blue line Music City Circuit bus for a free connection to their office. The aptly named Green line runs between downtown and the Gulch— an LEED neighborhood.
Nashville is making it easy for downtown workers and residents to get where they need to go without driving their cars. It’s not uncommon to see a group of business people in suits next to tourists in jean shorts walking downtown. Depending on the formality of the meeting, business lunches might be held at a barbeque joint with disposable plates or at an exclusive steakhouse.
Between Downtown and Music Row is a neighborhood called “The Gulch” which has been recently redeveloped. A work/live/play concept defines the neighborhood. It’s the first of it’s kind in the southeast United States because it has a LEED ND certification. While LEED certifications were originally designated for individual buildings, a LEED ND is a certification for an entire neighborhood development.
New buildings and re-purposed buildings have brought new life to this once dilapidated and disused industrial area. Now, large and small businesses are filling in the new spaces. So aside from deciding which IKEA furniture to order, which American Express business credit cards to apply for and which Starbucks coffees to order for the break room, new businesses also must consider how they can help keep the neighborhood green.
A local coffee shop sells reusable mugs. A local grocery store encourages use of paper bags rather than plastic. Special parking spots are designated throughout the neighborhood for alternative fuel vehicles.
Vanderbilt University is a large and prestigious college located on the west side of Nashville. They’re setting a great example for the local community and universities across the country. Not only are they adding sustainable features to existing buildings, they’ve got a total of 13 current LEED projects on campus. Some established buildings like dorms and the student life center have been updated with water-saving bathroom features. Of those 13 LEED projects, five are at the gold level.
Is your city going green? Are they encouraging businesses and individuals to start adopting sustainable practices? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.