Tennessee auto manufacturers awarded for sustainability, energy efficiency practices

Nissan manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee recently received the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award for the sixth year in a row.

This is the highest honor given to top organizations dedicated to protecting the environment by making their operations more energy efficient.

Nissan has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its continued commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy management.

Nissan’s efforts to reduce energy usage include switching to more efficient LED lighting, enhancing the compressed air leak production program, optimizing chilled water systems and using a paint process involving less volatile organic compounds that has cut energy usage by 30 percent.

Nissan’s Tennessee facility was also recently awarded the ENERGY STAR Certification for the eleventh year in a row, signifying Nissan’s spot among the top 25 percent of the automotive manufacturing industry for superior energy management.

Also Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant has been continuing to strengthen its energy policies. The Chattanooga facility is the first and only LEED Platinum certified automotive plant worldwide.

The plant has a solar park with 33,000 solar panels on 66 acres with a capacity of 9.5 million watts. Volkswagen also utilizes an advanced painting process that reduces CO2 emissions by 20 percent, and power efficient light bulbs installed in various lighting systems on site saves an estimated 20 percent energy compared to conventional industrial lighting.

More Tennessee cities are adopting LED lights, advanced energy technologies

An advanced energy trend is catching on in the Volunteer State as more cities make the switch to LED lights.

Knoxville’s City Council recently approved a contract to retrofit Knoxville’s nearly 30,000 streetlights with LEDs, setting the City on a path to significantly reduce carbon emissions, according to a release.

Council approved a more than $9 million contract with Siemens. The company expects to begin installation of the new lights across the city in late 2017 or early 2018. All work is expected to be complete by June 30, 2019.

By retrofitting Knoxville’s streetlights to LED technology, the City will reduce energy use, and take a major step toward exceeding its goal of reducing emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

“Infrastructure improvements like this are excellent ways for cities across the country to improve quality of life for their citizens, save a significant amount in energy costs and meet their sustainability goals,” said Marcus Welz, CEO of Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems.

City officials in Paris, Tennessee announced in February an energy efficiency project there will be launched. Leaders say they will be replacing more than 2,500 lights across the city to LEDs highlighting the project’s cost efficiency.

“It’s just an opportunity to do something progressive in our community and switch everything over to LED,” said City Manager Kim Foster.

Foster said they hope to start the process of replacing the lights in May, and this will be a continuing project over the next six to eight months.

Putnam County, Tennessee received a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant, and the funds were used towards upgrading the county’s government buildings with more energy-efficient LEDs.

The LEDs will be installed in the 911 center, the community center, the Putnam County Justice Center and agriculture buildings among others.

The light bulbs began getting replaced in June 2016 and the county has until the end of this month to complete the project.

Companies with aggressive sustainability targets expand facilities in Tennessee

The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) is staying busy as more companies choose to expand into the Volunteer State with a focus on incorporating more advanced energy technologies into their facilities.

Within the month of June, both Gap Inc. and Stanley Black & Decker have announced to upgrade their existing facilities in Tennessee.

Gap Inc. representatives revealed the company would be investing $41.7 million in its Gallatin distribution campus. The new capital investment would go towards technology upgrades as Gap Inc. expands its online fulfillment capabilities.

This would create more than 500 jobs at the center in Sumner County, further strengthening economic development within the community.

Gap Inc. has set ambitious goals to foster cleaner global business by revealing back in January 2016 it would reduce its carbon footprint by 50 percent from 2015 levels by the end of 2020. That announcement came after the company had already surpassed its previous goal of reducing emissions from 2008 levels by 20 percent by the end of 2015 across its U.S. operations.

To further enforce these goals, the clothing retailer released a statement following the current administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Gap Inc. remains committed to doing our part to act on climate. We will continue to work with like-minded businesses, NGOs and other stakeholders to support solutions that will create a more sustainable and economically strong future for the people and communities touched by our business around the world. It’s not only the right thing for the planet, but also the right path forward for business growth, job creation and human health.”

Stanley Black & Decker announced earlier this month the company would upgrade its existing facility in Jackson, Tennessee by investing $29 million into the location.

The industrial tool manufacturer will relocate new lines of production and product development to its facility in Madison County, creating approximately 255 new jobs.

Stanley Black & Decker has set sustainability standards of its own, by committing to reduce energy consumption within its facilities by 20% as well as reduce its carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2015 levels.

Also for the sixth consecutive year, the company has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America. This list is recognized as a benchmark for investors.

TDEC announces open registration for Third Annual Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Tennessee Clean Fuels, will hold the third annual Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards and Forum during Clean Air Month from May 23-24 at the Nashville Public Library.

“This event will bring together state experts, local leaders and community members to discuss successes and challenges facing transportation in Tennessee,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “The business, environmental and regulatory sectors will be represented to discuss topics that affect everyone in our state.”

The forum, entitled “Navigating Toward a Livable Tennessee,” will highlight local transportation planning and the pursuit of place-based policies and investments for improved transportation options in our communities. The keynote will be delivered by Russ Brooks, Smart Cities Director at Transportation for America, an organization focused on supporting the development of smart, sustainable, and locally driven transportation policies across the U.S. The morning address on May 24 will be delivered by Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Mayor Megan Barry.

An awards luncheon will be held on the second day of the forum, and will include remarks from TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau and Tennessee Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Toks Omishakin. The awards recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation systems in the state, consistent with ongoing efforts to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, provide for a strong economy, and protect our state’s natural resources.

2017 forum panel topics will include:

  • Behavior Change – Transportation demand management and the utilization of alternatives to single occupancy vehicles;
  • Mobility Planning – Improved efficiency in the delivery of goods and services, reduced congestion, and improved access to alternative transportation;
  • Energy and the Environment – Alternative fuel use for reduced emissions, improved air quality, and resiliency;
  • One Big Idea – Overview of winning projects and ideas.

The forum will also feature a showcase of alternative fuel vehicles, as well as a recognition ceremony for a new class of certified Tennessee Green Fleets. Through the Tennessee Clean Fuels’ Tennessee Green Fleets Certification Program, any Tennessee-based fleet can receive certification for its efforts toward reducing petroleum consumption, improving air quality, and increasing the use of alternative fuels or advanced vehicle technologies.

To register for the event, please visit this link.

A deeper glance into Tennessee’s energy employment

The Department of Energy released its 2017 U.S. Energy and Jobs Report giving a more thorough insight into energy employment across the country.

Within Tennessee, the report lists 53,501 Traditional Energy workers statewide. 7,062 of these workers are in the Fuels sector, 34,704 work in the Transmission, Wholesale Distribution, and Storage, and 11,285 workers are employed in Electric Power Generation.

Tennessee has an additional 50,451 jobs in Energy Efficiency and 97,056 in motor vehicles.

Electric Power Generation Employment

Within the Electric Power Generation sector, 11,285 workers are employed in Tennessee with an overwhelming majority being in renewables.

Traditional hydroelectric generation makes up the largest segment with 5,274 jobs, followed by solar at 5,085 jobs.

The report says utilities are responsible for most of the employment in Electric Power Generation with 73.4% of jobs.

Fuels Employment

As for the Fuels sector, there is a total of 7,062 jobs in Tennessee. While petroleum and other fossil fuels represent the largest segment of this employment at 3,332 jobs, alternative fuels such as corn ethanol, woody biomass, and other ethanol sources combined make up 2,013 jobs in the Volunteer state.

Energy Efficiency Employment

The largest number of the 50,451 energy efficiency jobs in Tennessee work in high efficiency HVAC and renewable heating and cooling firms, followed by ENERGY STAR and efficient lighting. Energy efficiency employment is found in the construction industry.

Related: Energy efficiency jobs: Where does Tennessee stand?

Transmission, Distribution and Storage Employment

Out of the 34,704 people employed in the Transmission, Distribution and Storage sector, 6,754 work on the state’s smart grids, 1,008 focus on energy storage, and 6,349 monitor micro grids.