GREENPRINT 2015/2040

In April 2015, GREENPRINT 2015/2040 was awarded the 2015 Excellence in Sustainability for a Plan Award from the American Planning Association Sustainable Communities Division. The Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan (“Greenprint”), a plan to link the Greater Memphis region with 500 miles of greenway trails and 200 miles of bicycle paths, was developed through a planning process led by the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability. Regional collaboration of this scale toward sustainability is an innovative practice. The plan involved over 3,000 people in a collaborative effort rarely seen in the Mid-South. Since the region does not have a history of planning together, a network of greenspace was viewed as a common interest across urban, suburban, and rural areas of the region. The plan covers 18 municipalities across Shelby County and Fayette County, TN; DeSoto County, MS; and Crittenden County, AR. The development of the Greenprint was guided by a consortium of over 300 individuals representing 82 organizations and jurisdictions from the region. The plan includes a comprehensive framework addressing how the Greenprint can bring broad benefits including improvements to parks and greenspaces, transportation choices, community health, housing and neighborhoods, environmental quality, economic development, quality of life, and social equity. The planning effort concluded upon the publication of the final plan, GREENPRINT 2015/2040, in November 2014. 

In October 2015, GREENPRINT 2015/2040 was awarded an honor award in the category of "Planning and Analysis: Regional" from the Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (TNASLA) and the Outstanding Plan Award from Tennessee Chapter of American Planning Association (TAPA).   Read the press release here.  

Shelby County Rain Gardens

In October 2015, the Office of Sustainability’s rain garden installation project at the Peggy W. Edmiston Administration Building won a merit award in the category of "Natural Resource Conservation: Sustainable Design" from the Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (TNASLA). Partners on this project included Shelby County Engineering, West Section TNASLA, and volunteers.  The jury said it is a “great story of community coming together.”   Read the press release here.  

Regional Designations

In April 2015, Memphis-Shelby County was awarded a 4-STAR Community Rating for national excellence in sustainability. The STAR Community Rating System is a robust sustainability rating system for cities, towns, and counties that helps communities evaluate themselves across eight areas related to sustainability, such as built environment, economy and jobs, health and safety, and natural systems. Other 4-STAR communities include: Austin, TX; Portland, OR; and Washington, D.C.  Memphis-Shelby County received a score of 419.1, qualifying as a 4-STAR Community recognized for “national excellence.” To learn more about the STAR Community Rating System, visit the STAR Communities website at

In November, 2014, Memphis-Shelby County was designated as a Valley Sustainable GOLD Community in Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) economic development program.  The goal of the program is to document a community’s assets and increase the likelihood that they will be viewed as progressive and competitive by companies looking to invest in new or expanding existing locations.“I am humbled to stand among so many others who have paved the way for all who share a passion to protect and care for the land that continues to provide so much for our country,” Wilson said in a statement. “Especially for farmers who work daily to provide food, fuel and fiber for our nation.”

Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards

In 2015, the Office of Sustainability nominated John Charles Wilson, President of Agricenter International, who won the Robert Sparks Lifetime Achievement award.   To qualify, a person must have at least 25 years of “valuable service to Tennessee’s environmental protection or conservation stewardship.” Wilson has been involved in various Memphis-area environmental efforts for four decades, including the Shelby County Soil Conservation District, which he has played a part in since 1979. He has held his current position at the Agricenter since 2001. Wilson has even testified before the U.S. Congress regarding soil issues.

In 2013, the Office of Sustainability nominated Brother International Corporation which won in the category of Energy and Renewable Resources.  In 2012, Brother International Corporation achieved ENERGY STAR certification for their 1.6-million-square-foot distribution center in Bartlett, Tenn.  Brother International’s distribution center is the largest commercial facility and one of only 12 in Tennessee to have received an ENERGY STAR rating – and by doing so has doubled the total ENERGY STAR square footage in the state. Initiatives that made this certification possible include the use of higher chiller set-points; variable drive systems for heating and cooling systems; installation of energy efficient reflective roofing; and other building and equipment upgrades; as well as the construction of two 60 kilowatt solar farms that together, generate nearly 180,000 kilowatt hours of clean renewable energy per year.

In 2012, the Office of Sustainability nominated Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis which won in the category of Green Buildings. During 2011, Habitat was the top builder of single-family, EcoBUILD-certified homes in Shelby County. All Memphis Habitat for Humanity homes are built to this standard, and they are 33 percent more energy efficient, use 30 percent less lumber and generate 75 percent less construction waste than traditional homes. Homes also incorporate many innovative and sustainable features, including Energy Star windows, appliances, lighting and ceiling fans; low-flow toilets, faucets and shower heads; recycled drywall and carpet; brick and cement-fiber board siding; OSB sheathing and house wrap; radiant roof decking; and low-VOC paints and coatings. The Habitat homes are sold at no profit, with zero-interest mortgages to qualified homebuyers who earn at or below 80 percent of the area median income. Projects through the Memphis-area Habitat for Humanity created an infusion of nearly $3 million into the local economy during 2011, providing steady employment to nearly 60 workers in the hard-hit construction industry, while making affordable home ownership possible for 44 low-income families.