Green is the new black

Posted: September 9, 2013 - 2:47pm

In August, Y‑12 hosted the East Tennessee Regional portion of the Tennessee Green Star Partnership Workshop at the New Hope Center, welcoming environmental stakeholders from the state, local government, business and industry. The workshop provided a forum for introducing the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's new Tennessee Green Star Partnership. A key point that resonated throughout workshop presentations is that going green can help keep companies in the black, and the new program should improve tracking these cost savings across the state.

Y‑12 is at the 3‑Star Level in TGSP, which replaces the Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership Program (or TP3). TGSP is an initiative to promote sustainable practices throughout the state and TDEC's premier recognition program for Tennessee businesses and organizations committed to environmental stewardship, leadership, and sustainability. As Tennessee rolls out TGSP, TDEC also will begin tracking ongoing cost savings. For example, the cost savings from a new energy-efficient boiler would be counted not just in the year of installation but also in subsequent years of operation. According to Robin Heriges from the TDEC Office of Sustainable Practices, this will provide a more accurate representation of statewide energy and cost reductions.

Durand Carmany, director of Projects, Sustainability and Facilities, welcomed workshop attendees and presented some impressive numbers that drove home the potential for green-driven cost reductions: Since 1993, Y‑12 has implemented more than 1,230 pollution prevention initiatives that reduced more than 2.07 billion pounds of various types of waste. This reduction resulted in an estimated cost efficiency of more than $70.7 million to the Y‑12 Complex, and consequently, to taxpayers. (Read more about “The greening of Y‑12”)

This relationship of environmental stewardship to reducing costs was echoed during a presentation by Paul Jennings, executive director at the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services. “People in leadership positions are really committed to sustainability,” Jennings said. “And now that we can provide a business case for sustainability efforts, there is an even greater commitment.”

The purpose of the TGSP Workshop was to offer guidance on how to advance through the TGSP levels, promote membership outreach and mentoring in sustainable practices and provide a forum for benchmarking and networking. “As we learn more about the revised TGSP,” Sustainability and Stewardship Program manager Jan Jackson said, “we'll share how that may change our reporting back to the state to maintain a 3-Star Level.”

Workshop speakers also gave presentations about the Green Globes Program, a Web-based program for green building guidance and certification; E3 (Economy, Energy and Environment) services for manufacturing facilities offered by the UT Center for Industrial Services; Y‑12's Sustainability and Stewardship initiatives, and other sustainability topics.

The event was hosted at Y‑12 as part of the site’s overall goal to promote a more sustainable environment and share various pollution prevention initiatives with other industries and organizations.