Case Studies and Success Stories


Vanderbilt University: ~14,500 students, faculty, and staff
Multimodal Transportation and Green Space

Vanderbilt was recently ranked 21st among top “green” colleges and universities. The 333-acre campus is in the beautiful downtown of one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, Nashville, Tennessee. The University has several initiatives to increase their sustainability and resilience through long term planning goals, largely focused on land use and transportation. FutureVU is a campus initiative that aims to preserve the historic campus and its unique and distinctive park setting while reinforcing and enhancing its walkability and sustainability; it will replace acres of parking with green space and new educational buildings. The University’s MoveVU initiative aims to reduce the number of solo-driver trips its faculty, staff, and students make from 70 percent to just 47 percent (a reduction of about 5,000 daily trips) by 2025. With a $4.5 million grant from TDOT, matched by Vanderbilt, the university will have the funds to add shuttle transportation and shelters, bike share centers, and other transit improvements. More information can be found here.


Knoxville Station Transit Center: population 187,347
Sustainability and Resilience for Knoxville's Transit System

The Knoxville Station Transit Center is the first government LEED certified building in the City of Knoxville. The building incorporates several features that maximize sustainability and many of the transportation options are energy efficient vehicles. The transit center includes sustainable features such as a green roof, geothermal heating and cooling, and solar panels. The center also offers recycling for commuters and employees. This resulted in the transit center recycling around 50% of their waste. The center was specially designed to increase use of natural lighting, which reduces annual energy consumption. The transit options are sustainable, too, with propane-powered vehicles, thanks to funding from the Clean Fuels Program, and 3 hybrid electric buses and trolleys that service the area and improve air quality. Knoxville's transit system offers 20 fixed routes and serves 3.6 million people per year. 3 trolley routes service the downtown and University of Tennessee campus and are free to use. More information can be found here.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park:11.4 million visitors per year
Turning to Alternative Fuels

Since 1999, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Energy have collaborated through the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative to promote transportation projects that reduce dependence on petroleum, reduce tailpipe emissions, and educate park visitors on the benefits of reduced vehicle emissions. Reducing the negative environmental impact of transportation in parks is also a key tenet of the National Park Services’ 2012 Green Parks Plan. This plan committed the NPS to reducing its carbon footprint 10% by its Centennial in 2016. In support of this effort, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has installed two public DCFC and two Level II charging stations at their visitor centers. In addition to the Year One Clean Cities initiatives, the Park is integrating alternative fuel vehicles into the fleet with the purchase of six Ford F-250 crew cab trucks that were converted to run on propane, a hybrid Ford Fusion, and the installation of propane fueling stations in two maintenance areas.

As of 2017, the Park has 16 hybrid vehicles in their fleet. The Park started several years ago embarking on a new phase of achieving further reductions in both petroleum-use and emissions with alternative fuels. Working with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition and the Land-of-Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition, the Park submitted a funding request in 2013 through the joint DOE-DOI “Clean Cities National Parks Initiative.” Through this proposal and numerous collaborations, the Park was able to replace three full size trucks with new, low-speed electric vehicles, convert five gasoline-powered zero-turn mowers to propane, and install two electric vehicle charging stations, creating EV infrastructure within the park.


Knoxville, TN – population 187,347
Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project

The Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project renovated and reconstructed a half-mile urban corridor along Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville, Tennessee. The public investment of $25 million was a combination of Surface Transportation Program funds from the Federal Highway Administration, managed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, and a match from the City of Knoxville. Knoxville Utilities Board also invested in the replacement of underground utilities to lay new gas, water, and sewer lines along the corridor. The project sought to improve safety, increase economic investments, and provide vibrancy along Cumberland Avenue from Alcoa Highway to 16th Street. Prior to the project, there was an average of 6-7 pedestrian/bicycle accidents annually – the most crashes per mile of any corridor in the City.

This corridor is critically important as a front porch to the University of Tennessee’s flagship campus, two regional hospitals, one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state, and downtown Knoxville. The project illustrates that the transformation of an under-performing corridor into an attractive, economically successful, vibrant, and safe street can be achieved through strategic planning, partnerships, community involvement, and active stakeholder involvement toward a common vision. Finished on time and under budget, the Cumberland Avenue Corridor Project has led to approximately $190 million private investment in six private developments, which also brought approximately 1,400 new residents to the corridor. For more information about this project, please click here.


Chapel Hill: population 1,503
Henry Horton Wetlands Observation Area Project

In the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee, a 65-acre agricultural field was restored to its original wetland state, producing ecological, social, and economic benefits for the local community. The restoration project was completed in 2015 at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill through a public – private partnership between the staff of Henry Horton State Park, the Town of Chapel Hill, the Tennessee Environmental Council, Friends of Henry Horton State Park, volunteers of all ages, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Wetlands offer many benefits, including flood control, improved water quality, and serving as a habitat for many plants and animals. By restoring the wetland, this effort returned one of the state’s most diverse ecosystem types back into the region.

In a second public-private partnership at the same location, Friends of Henry Horton, General Motors employees, and park staff worked together to construct an observation deck to promote public engagement and awareness with the wetland. The project was made possible by a $10,000 donation from General Motors, and volunteers from Johnson Contractors and Boldt Construction who put in more than 550 hours of labor. More information can be found here.


Town of Erwin: population 5,869
Downtown Revitalization and Ecotourism

The town of Erwin is located just south of Johnson City in Unicoi County and provides a gateway to surrounding natural beauty and outdoor escapes just minutes from revitalized downtown area. Erwin takes advantage of its beautiful landscape through ecotourism, and boasts trails, festivals, and parks. The Erwin Linear Trail offers a six-mile paved trail that weaves through the town following the banks of the Nolichucky River and North Indian Creek. Since 1978, Erwin has hosted the annual two-day Apple Festival which draws more than 100,000 attendees – over 16 times their population! Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park encompassing 2,076 acres of scenic wilderness in the southern Appalachian Mountains of East Tennessee offers access to the famed Appalachian Trail which stretches from Maine to Georgia. To continue attracting visitors and keep their downtown vibrant, leaders have invested internally through a three-phase renovation of the business district to upgrade utilities, road, sidewalks, and mitigate flooding. This renovation was possible due to financial assistance from the Tennessee Main Street Program.


Rocky Fork State Park: 2,076 acres of scenic wilderness in Unicoi County
Partnerships through Citizen Science

Rocky Fork State Park strives to better understand, track, and to ultimately protect the health of its pristine watershed through a long-term Water Quality Study. Where did Rocky Fork turn to complete such a significant undertaking? A partnership! Trout Unlimited’s Overmountain Chapter Trout Unlimited and Cherokee Chapter Trout Unlimited will join with the park to establish a sustainable long-term water quality study that will provide quantifiable information to guide natural resource management. The study will include a citizen science project, water quality testing stations, and a weather station, which will provide data about the Rocky Fork micro-climate/habitat and watershed. ETSU Biological Sciences and Friends of Rocky Fork State Park are also supporting this effort by providing expertise and manpower. Rocky Fork State Park was recently presented the 2018 Conservation Partner award from Trout Unlimited Overmountain Chapter for their efforts.


Shelby County: population 927,644
Redevelopment - Crosstown Concourse

The Crosstown Concourse is the metamorphosis of turning an abandoned Sears-Roebuck Distribution Center into a 1.5 million square foot “Vertical Urban Village” embracing the arts, education, and healthcare. This building, located at North Parkway and Watkins Street in the Crosstown neighborhood of Midtown Memphis, was originally constructed in 1927 and by 1965 was the region’s largest employer. After sitting abandoned for over two decades, the existing building posed a quandary. It was too large to redevelop and too expensive to demolish. In 2007, the structure was purchased by a local philanthropist, who in 2010 was approached by a local start-up art organization that wanted to relocate their operation to the building. After a six-month feasibility study, a group of nine local institutions brought housing, arts, education, and healthcare into the same building – with LEED Platinum Certification.

The Crosstown Concourse teaches us what can happen when the typical model for development is put aside in favor of local reinvestment and direct community collaboration. A recent Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards winner, Crosstown Concourse demonstrates what is possible when multiple civic organizations committed to restoring a community are paired with patient capital and civic leaders determined to see their city improved. Read more about the redevelopment here.


City of Pikeville: population 1,608
Renovating Old Buildings to Create the New Municipal Building

The City of Pikeville needed a new municipal complex to consolidate all municipal departments in a single structure. Previous facilities lacked adequate storage, organizational structure, and up-to-date filing systems. The City of Pikeville received two grants, a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant from TDEC for $250,000 (with a match by the city of 56%) and USDA funding, to renovate a 14 acre plot of land that had been gifted to the City of Pikeville from the Bledsoe County School Board, This land contained the abandoned and dilapidated Bledsoe County Elementary School, the Bledsoe County High School gymnasium and football field, and the City of Pikeville Municipal Building. These buildings were lying fallow for a little over 17 years because the student population outgrew these facilities.

The renovated campus now houses all the city offices, along with the police, water, and gas departments, Pikeville-Bledsoe County Chamber of Commerce, and the THP. Consolidating these departments into one facility helped the City of Pikeville to reduce costs associated with utilities and building maintenance. The facility is also home to a walking track, a football field for youth football teams, and a playground where children can play while parents walk or visit and basketball goals. Renovations/improvement to the facilities include energy efficiency upgrades for the HVAC, LED lighting, new windows, and a new roof. The new facility also utilized repurposed materials like doors, floors, and wood trim. For more information about this project, please click here (page 3). For more information about the City of Pikeville and Bledsoe County, please click here.


Nashville, TN – population 667,560
Riverfront Park: Built With Sustainability in Mind

Riverfront Park is an 11-acre public green space that is open year-round and is located in downtown Nashville on the Cumberland River between Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge and the Gateway Bridge and bordered by First Avenue South. The space allows for various recreational activities, music, and community events to take place downtown. It also features outdoor fitness equipment, the first urban dog park in Nashville, outdoor workspaces with public Wi-Fi connectivity, a 1.5-acre event lawn known as “the Green,” a bowl-shaped outdoor venue with a 100-foot-wide stage, and a two-story building known as Ascend Amphitheater. The amphitheater has become a center of downtown life from the evening it hosted its very first concert.

The project was ultimately designed to promote biodiversity, reduce the risk of flooding in downtown Nashville, and encourage more sustainable modes of transport by creating an important link in Nashville’s walking and cycling greenway network. The first phase of the Riverfront Park redevelopment is part of a larger master plan, developed to transform over 17 acres of land on both banks of the Cumberland River into downtown park space. When fully implemented, the project area will be ten times the size of the existing Riverfront Park. These modifications include public features such as fountains, spray-grounds, boardwalks, overlooks, piers, performance spaces, wetlands, plazas, new docking facilities, increased bikeways, and open play space. For more information on this project, please click here.


Montgomery County: population 200,182
Energy and Renewable Resources

In October of 2016, the Montgomery County Government partnered with Siemens Industry, Inc. to complete a year-long, large-scale lighting retrofit and upgrade of the HVAC system in the Montgomery County Historic Courthouse, Courts Center, Jail, Health Department, and the Veterans Plaza property. Over 23,000 lights and fixtures were retrofitted with LED bulbs, and three chillers and four boilers were replaced with more efficient units from a local business and Tennessee Green Star Partner, Trane. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs and the Clarksville-Montgomery County Green Certification Program provided necessary technical assistance for this project by helping the County determine which improvements would be most beneficial. This $5 million retrofit and upgrade is a self-funded energy efficiency project, estimated to save Montgomery County Government $358,827 in the first year. Data collected from October 2017 through February 2018 show a total savings of approximately 674,200 kWh, natural gas savings of approximately 35,100 Ccf, and water savings of approximately 5,046,700 gallons. In addition to the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award, Montgomery County won a special award for “Outstanding Efforts in Energy Efficiency” at the October 2017 Clarksville-Montgomery County Green Certification Awards banquet and the City of Clarksville is a Valley Sustainable Gold Community. Click here to learn more.


City of Lebanon: Population 32,226
Waste to Energy Initiative

The City of Lebanon completed a waste-to-energy plant last year, with partial funding from the Clean Tennessee Energy Grant, taking a historic step toward improving the environment and solving the city’s waste disposal issues. At the time of the commissioning, this was the only plant of its kind in the United States. In fact, it was (and still is) the world’s largest downdraft gasification plant. It serves as a tool that the city uses to manage its waste and energy needs. Aries Clean Energy designed and provided oversight in the construction of the downdraft gasification plant. Each year this plant will:

  • Eliminate 2,500 tons of carbon emissions;
  • Keep 8,000 tons of wood and sludge waste out of the local landfill;
  • Bolster growth at Rockwood Recycling – the driver of a public-private partnership formed to collect and process;
  • Produce a left-over product called Biochar, which is potentially another revenue stream for the city;
  • And generate 1.8 million kilowatt-hours of electricity behind the meter.

Knoxville, TN: population 187,347
Knoxville Partnerships for Low Income Weatherization Assistance and Energy Efficiency Education

In 2013, the City of Knoxville launched the Smarter Cities Partnership, bringing together more than 20 community organizations to work toward solutions to address the $4.8 million that Knoxville was spending to help struggling families pay utility bills. Instead of spending millions of dollars for bill payment assistance, the Smarter Cities Partnership proposed a long-term solution: energy-efficiency upgrades to low-income homes that would both make bills more affordable and benefit the environment. In response to recommendations developed by the partnerships, the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) developed its utility bill round up program, Round It Up, in partnership with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC). Round It Up was launched in 2015 as a three-year pilot program through which KUB customers could voluntarily allow their utility bills to be rounded to the next dollar, with 100% of the funds contributed to CAC’s weatherization assistance program for low-income residents. Round It Up is now a permanent program that continually helps provide those much-needed funds. During the initial three-year period, customers contributed over $2.2 million and more than 170 homes were weatherized.

At the same time, the partners developed a proposal and were awarded more than $15 million from TVA for the Knoxville Extreme Energy Makeover (KEEM) - a two-year program to weatherize 1,278 lower-income homes and provide energy efficiency education to better equip participants to manage their utility costs. KEEM was a partnership between TVA, CAC, City of Knoxville, KUB, Alliance to Save Energy and several non-profit partners. The program ended in September 2017, with results including a total deemed annual energy savings of more than 6 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), improved quality of life and comfort for the participants, over 1,700 residents educated through more than 145 workshops, and $12.2 million direct economic impact to the local community. The Knoxville partners are also continuing to fund energy efficiency education workshops throughout the community. For more information, please click here.


City of Rockwood: population 5,562
Grant Management

The city of Rockwood was recognized in 2018 by the Tennessee Municipal League (TML) with the Small City Progress Award. During the past several years, Rockwood has received more than $2.5 million in grants, with an overall average match of 15%, to support construction of comfort stations, trails, greenways, congestion mitigation and air quality projects, safe routes to school sidewalks and repairs, a bridge replacement, and numerous recreation grants. Upcoming projects include conversion of more than 800 street lights to LED and use of an enhancement grant for connection of the historic downtown area to the Rockwood Waterfront via a greenway, including sidewalk improvements and additions, bike lanes, pedestrian lighting and a handicap accessible trailhead/comfort station complete with restrooms at the lake. Rockwood leaders excel at locating, writing, and managing professional grants to responsibly serve their citizens in a more sustainable and resilient community. These measures not only support community health, but also environmental health and ongoing savings for the community and its residents. More information can be found here.


Loretto, TN: population ~1,800
Loretto City Pool

Beginning in late 2015, the City undertook an ambitious project to replace an aging municipal pool, which had been closed for over 2 years due to leaks and failing mechanical and plumbing systems, with a new state-of-the-art swim facility featuring a wide variety of sustainable building features. This project marked the town’s largest public works project undertaken in over 20 years. Through successful collaboration with the State of Tennessee, an innovative team of design professionals, and the craftsmanship of a skilled general contractor, the pool was opened for use in August 2016. To complete this project, The City received a $250,000 grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Recreational Services Division that, with the required match, provided an initial budget of $500,000. The City also secured an additional grant for the hiring of a full-time Parks Director. With additional effort and negotiation, the City was awarded a generous $273,000 grant from TDEC’s Office of Sustainable Practices after presenting a concept plan and budget for the pool facility featuring an array of energy efficient and sustainable building features. With matching funds, this raised the total project budget to $1.05 million.

The resulting swim facility includes environmentally friendly features such as a recycled glass bead filter system, a pool deck composed of 40 percent fly-ash — a byproduct of coal combustion — and a retractable pool cover to help maintain ideal aquatic temperatures. The facility includes pervious pavement, bioswales, skylights, and LED lighting to illuminate interior areas, and is built from the same fly-ash concrete. All sustainability features are highlighted in permanent signage around the property. Additionally, all pool facilities, parking, restrooms, and sidewalk areas are Americans with Disability Act-accessible. Please click here for more information about this project.


City of Kingsport: population 53.374
Engaging Citizens in the Spirit of Resilience

In 2018, following its 100th anniversary year, Kingsport was awarded for Excellence in Government by the Tennessee Municipal League for its innovative approaches to local governance.
These approaches include involving citizens, utilizing new technology, and cooperation among both elected officials and appointed staff. Leading up to the city’s centennial anniversary in 2017, officials established the “OneKingsport Summit,” a two-day period to gather citizen input and form an advisory committee to help guide the city into the future. Five projects designed to provide a sustained economic impact and improve the quality of life for citizens were identified at the summit and are currently in progress. The city also recently established a 12-member Neighborhood Commission that advises and promotes initiatives to strengthen local neighborhoods. To better communicate with residents, Kingsport implemented “YourGov,” a free service that allows residents to report non-emergency issues and service requests using the web or a smart phone. Kingsport continues to strive to be more sustainable and resilient by continually seeking input and synergy from residents to harness the Kingsport “spirit” of achievement.


Austin Peay State University: 10,954 students
Practicing Sustainability By Decreasing Food Insecurity

Austin Peay State University took a holistic approach to supporting healthy futures for students facing food insecurity. The University incorporated sustainability practices, provided access to fresh produce and protein, upcycled, reduced food waste, and educated for a lifelong sustainable mindset toward food. In 2011, APSU took on food insecurity by starting the first college campus food pantry in the state of TN. In 2017, the pantry fed 2,040 people across 908 pantry visits, giving out a total of 22,196 items. At the pantry, students have access to shelf stable pantry items, fresh produce, refrigerated foods, frozen items, and fresh eggs. Eligible students may visit the pantry once a week to get food – up to 3 days’ worth of meals per person. To foster a comfortable, familiar experience, the students get to select their own items as they would with a trip to the grocery store. The pantry is open 4 days a week, 8 hours a day while classes are in session and 2 days week, 8 hours a day when classes are not in session. It is staffed by student volunteers and managed by an AmeriCorps VISTA.


City of Pigeon Forge: Population 6,238
Sevier Solid Waste, Inc. Composting

Sevier Solid Waste, Inc. (SSWI) operates a solid waste compost plant outside of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that composts 60% of the county’s municipal solid waste. This translates into a 60% decrease in the amount of waste that is landfilled locally.

This program is unique because it doesn’t require people to separate their trash from recycling and organics. This is particularly significant in an area that sees as many tourists as Sevier County does. People visiting the area often assume that no recycling is available, but every public trash can has a sign explaining that all trash is composted. SSWI even accepts all waste from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Trash and recyclables are combined with some of the processed compost and placed in 185-foot long and 14-foot wide rotating composting drums, called aerobic digesters. Heat and air are blown into the drums to kill pathogens and begin the composting process. After processing through the rotating drums for three days, the material is screened and placed in windrows inside of large covered buildings where the material is further composted for 28 days. This process produces finished compost.

The onsite recycling facility adjacent to the composting operation separates materials that are not composted for recycling. Tom Leonard, general manager of SSI, says, “With our new recycling facility we expect recycling and diversion rates to increase dramatically in Sevier County… [through] being able to pull out plastic, aluminum and [steel].”


Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County: Population 1,903,045
Recycling Scrap Tires

Metro Nashville is replacing the steel grates that surrounded trees in downtown Nashville with a porous tree surround made of scrap tire rubber, small rocks and a polyurethane binder. The tree surrounds will provide the tree roots access to rain water and remain flexible enough to accommodate tree growth. The porous tree surrounds will also help eliminate possible lawsuits from trip hazards created by broken steel grates and reduce maintenance costs for cleaning the tree wells.

Metro Nashville began with a pilot project to install tree surrounds on Charlotte Avenue in front of the Tennessee State Capital in 2018. Porous rubber tree surrounds may be placed in any tree well size and all the construction is done on site, which are major advantages of the approach. Because of the success of the tree surrounds, Metro Nashville applied for and received matching funds from the Tire Environmental Act Program to install 130 more tree surrounds in downtown Nashville.

Metro Nashville communicated with the City of Key West, Florida, another city that converted all of their tree wells into porous rubber tree surrounds. The City of Key West recorded zero lawsuits related to the tree surrounds compared to 27 lawsuits related to the steel grates in the year before the change. Nashville was sold on the project because of the reduction in lawsuits and the beneficial use of scrap tires.


Warren County: population 40,651
Discard Discussion Forum

In July 2016, a county-level forum, hosted by the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, encouraged businesses to find outlets for discarded material streams and equipment. The forum also provided space for environmental discussions centering on recycling and waste disposal for larger environmental initiatives to take root. It brings together manufacturing facilities, waste vendors, state/local government representatives, and nonprofit organizations in an open setting to promote a transferable change in waste disposal culture in the Warren county region.

The goal of these “Discard Discussions,” as they are now known, is to facilitate local recycling for materials that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive due to shipping expenses or low volumes. In 2017, Southern Central, a waste company, utilized the Discard Discussions to work with Federal-Mogul, an automotive manufacturer, to reuse sturdy plastic “Kanban” containers. Now, local businesses purchase the empty containers directly from Federal-Mogul and use them for inexpensive organization and storage. The containers are rehomed and no energy is expended transporting them outside of the county for destruction. Similarly, the Bridgestone tire factory had several hundred square feet of rubber floor matting after replacing equipment at the facility. Through the Discard Discussions, Bridgestone donated the floor matting to the Warren Arts Foundation, a neighborhood nonprofit dedicated to developing a high quality arts center in Warren County. The floor matting is now used to cover the stage they are building.


Wilson County: Population 136,422
Rockwood Recycling, LLC Helps Wilson County with Scrap Tire Recycling

Rockwood Recycling, LLC was awarded grant funds from the Tire Environmental Act Program to purchase a tire shredder for the purpose of managing the end-of-life tires in Wilson County. The tire shredding operation has recycled 122,577 tires from Wilson County over the past two years, converting the scrap tires into tire derived aggregate (TDA). The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Resources allows TDA to backfill residential septic system field lines if the TDA meets established guidelines. Rockwood’s shredded scrap tires meet the established guidelines and is currently providing TDA to sub-surface sewage disposal system (SSDS) installers in Middle Tennessee. The SSDS installers use the TDA because it is cost effective and easy to work with as it weighs less than the traditional materials used.

Other applications for Rockwood’s shredded tires include inner fill for erosion control barriers, such as the Erosion Eel which is made in Shelbyville, TN. These barriers consists of woven polypropylene geotextile “socks” filled with TDA and provide effective erosion control at a construction sites to prevent sediment from leaving the job site. These erosion barriers can be cleaned and reused at another construction site multiple times. More information about the Erosion Eel can be found here.


City of Bristol: Population 26,842
Patriot Recycling, Inc. Assists with Scrap Tire Recycling

Patriot Recycling, Inc. (PRI) received grant funds from the Tire Environmental Act Program to purchase tire shredding equipment for the purpose of managing the end-of-life tires in Upper East Tennessee. The tire shredding operation has recycled 1,096,529 tires from Sullivan, Johnson, Washington, Hawkins, Jefferson, Cocke and Greene Counties over the past three years. The tires that are not re-purposed are shredded into tire derived aggregate (TDA) that can be used in porous walkways and for porous tree surrounds to replace steel grates.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Resources allows TDA to backfill residential septic system field lines if the TDA meets established guidelines. Rockwood’s shredded scrap tires meet the established guidelines and is currently providing TDA to sub-surface sewage disposal system (SSDS) installers in Middle Tennessee. The SSDS installers use the TDA because it is cost effective and easy to work with as it weighs less than the traditional materials used.


Johnson City: population 66,906
Stormwater Management in Downtown Johnson City

Like many communities in Tennessee, Johnson City faces recurring risk of flood events. As a creative solution to the flood risk arising from Brush Creek, which parallels major establishments in Johnson City including East Tennessee State University (ETSU) and the Johnson City airport, city officials invested $30 million in a flood mitigation program to target severe flooding occurring in the downtown region. This eight-part project involved several components, including stream alterations, new culverts, and catch basins. At the heart of the project was the development of Founders Park.

Founders Park offers much needed green space for managing stormwater from Brush Creek in the Johnson City community. City officials opened Brush Creek and included a stone, channel, and pipe system that has resulted in routing water down two-foot increments in a series of drop offs to funnel water and expand creek capacity before flooding. By investing in a stormwater management project that also serves as a park, city officials can draw attention to the issue of flooding and stormwater management across the community while creating an outdoor space that can be used by the public.

Please see the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s “Short-term Response to Flooding: A Guide for Communities and Local Governments” for a set of questions and answers to support activities in the hours, days, and weeks following a flood event.

Downtown Nashville

Nashville: population 670,820
Floodplain Management Through Home Buyouts

After the devastating flood of 2010 in Nashville, which caused an estimated $2 billion in property damage, city officials reevaluated the region’s approach to floodplain management. The City knew it needed to enhance resiliency and reduce the risks associated with future flooding. One approach that Nashville has taken in recent years is home and property buyouts, which involves converting developed space in extremely risky areas for flooding into open space and forbidding future development on that property. Homeowners are offered the fair market value for their property, without considering flood damage or flood risk, and may accept or decline the offer without any negotiation.

The home buyout strategy has several benefits. First, it eliminates property damage that would occur with future floods, a costly component of flooding that impacts the homeowner and the city. Additionally, by converting the property into greenspace and mimicking a more “natural” floodplain, stormwater may be taken up by soil rather than accumulating on impervious surfaces like asphalt or concrete. This reduces runoff and flooding risks. As of 2017, Metro Nashville purchased 261 homes and selected over 1,000 homes in Davidson County for potential home buyouts. This approach is endorsed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as part of a holistic approach to responsible floodplain management.

Please see the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s “Short-term Response to Flooding: A Guide for Communities and Local Governments” for a set of questions and answers to support activities in the hours, days, and weeks following a flood event.



Jennifer Tribble