The mission of the Sustainable Shelby Implementation Plan is to set realistic, actionable, and quantifiable strategies that will guide Shelby County toward a more sustainable future. The Office of Sustainability will work with relevant public and private sector agencies and individuals to implement those strategies.

Total Grants obtained by the Office of Sustainability

Name of Grant






Form Office of Sustainability

 $                 421,800

HUD Sustainable Communities

Nov 2011

Regional Greenprint

 $              2,619,999

TN 385/I-269 Corridor Economic Development/Environmental Study Grant

Jul 2012

Development Study

 $                 150,000

Green Development Grant (TDEC)

Nov 2012

City Schools rain garden

 $                   25,180

Air Board's Penalty Funds

Jul 2013

Bike Racks for county buildings

 $                      4,000

Green Development Grant (TDEC)

Nov 2013

Low Impact Development

 $                   21,900

Local Sustainability Matching Fund

Apr 2014

Livability Dashboard

 $                 150,000

TN Clean Energy Grant (TDEC)

Jul 2014

Shelby Co Corrections energy upgrades

 $                 250,000

Hyde Family Foundation

Jan 2015

Greenprint Coordinator

$                 157,000

Green Development Grant (TDEC)

Jan 2015

Rain gardens and homeowner education

 $                  20,000

TN Clean Energy Grant (TDEC)

June 2015

Solar panels on Lichterman

$                  80,000

Carton Council Grant

August 2015

Printing county-wide information on recycling

$                    2,500



 $             3,902,379

The 2015 Year in Review Report is available here.  


HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant

In November 2011, Shelby County Government was awarded a $2.6 million HUD Regional Planning Grant to develop the Mid-South Regional Greenprint & Sustainability Plan to create a regional network of green spaces to connect Shelby County, Fayette County TN, Crittenden County AR, and DeSoto County MS.  The plan covers 18 municipalities in the four counties and three states involved.  A 332 person consortium group of greenway organizations, related businesses, colleges and universities, citizens groups, and local and state governments will lead the planning effort which began in June 2012.  In all, 80 organizations have served in the Mid-South Regional Greenprint & Sustainability Consortium.  The Vision Plan is published here:   Twenty “subplanning” projects were selected in a competitive process to be recipients of funding.  They range from plans for a multi-modal town center in Frayser to an eco-park plan for the Arkansas side of the Harahan Bridge. A complete list of subplanning projects can be found by visiting These projects will be completed by October 2014. 

Green Development Grant 2014 (Rain gardens for Shelby Co government building)

The Shelby County Engineering program in partnership with Memphis and Shelby County Office of Sustainability with support from Tennessee Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (TNASLA) proposes to install 4 green infrastructure demonstration rain gardens at the Peggy W. Edmiston Administration Building (one of the largest Shelby County Government offices) and to offer multiple educational sessions to homeowners.  A grant was received for $20,000 and the installation took place June 20, 2015.  

Green Development Grant 2013 (Low Impact Development Workshop and Competition)

The Office of Sustainability applied for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Green Development Grant.  This $21,900 grant was awarded in the fall of 2013 to host a Low Impact Development (LID) conference and design competition.  LID is a way to treat stormwater runoff that mimics the natural hydrology of the site instead of the traditional method of piping the water directly off the site.  The impetus for this conference and competition is the updated regulations that will affect all municipalities as their stormwater permit gets renewed over the next few years.  The Conference was held in March and Competition in July.  Winner will be determined in September.  More information:

Green Development Grant 2012 (City Schools rain gardens)

The Office of Sustainability convened the Memphis City Schools and Memphis Botanic Gardens in applying for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Green Development Grant.  This $25,180 grant was awarded November 28, 2012 to the City of Memphis to design and install rain gardens for three Memphis City Schools and to develop the associated educational curriculum materials.

Green Prisons Initiative

The Office of Sustainability, Shelby County Public Works, and Shelby County Division of Corrections applied for the TN Dept. of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Clean Energy Grant to conduct energy upgrades to the Shelby County Corrections Center.  Shelby County Government was awarded $250,000 on July 23, 2014 for this project.  Corrections is the largest energy user of the Shelby Co. government buildings due to its’ round the clock schedule, with annual utility costs averaging over $1.5 million.  Two types of domestic hot water reduction will be used: roof mounted solar thermal hot water system and ozone laundry system which are both used with great success and quick return on investment at the Indiana State Dept of Corrections.  Inmates will be trained to install the systems as part of a broader strategy for reentry skills training.  Corrections has also implemented recycling within their own facility using inmate labor to bail materials.  With the coordination with Public Works, recyclables from the Peggy Edmiston Building are also being processed by Corrections.  It is hoped this will be expanded in the future to other buildings.

STAR Community Rating System (Strategy 3.2.3)

STAR Community Rating System is the nation’s first standardized framework for evaluating the sustainability of US cities and counties.  Communities achieving a certified STAR Community Rating will be recognized as national leaders in sustainability.  The certification process is very meticulous and requires significant data collection.  Once all of the data is collected, the STAR tool can be used to establish targets and benchmarks for the City and County in various areas.  Memphis-Shelby County was selected with a handful of other municipalities for the 2014 Leadership STAR Community Program.  This comes with a value of $25,000 in STAR technical support. 

TVA Valley Sustainable Communities Program

The TVA Valley Sustainable Communities Program assists communities in identifying and cataloging their sustainable assets and increasing their sustainability commitments. The economic development focus is to increase the community’s competitiveness when companies are looking to invest in new or expanded locations in the Valley. There are three levels of qualification for communities (Silver, Gold, and Platinum) and Memphis-Shelby County is going through the process to obtain a certification. This project is in collaboration with the Greater Memphis Chamber.

Local Sustainability Matching Fund (Livability Dashboard)

The Office of Sustainability and three partnering local foundations (Assisi Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, and Hyde Family Foundations) received a matching grant of $75,000 from the Funders Network.  The grant will be used to develop an interactive web-based Livability Dashboard that can be used to map neighborhood assets and analyze sustainability indicators and metrics. The Dashboard will allow residents to access datasets at the neighborhood level for an array of indicators that provide a snapshot of neighborhood health based on social, crime, physical, economic and environmental conditions.  The Dashboard will expand access to communitywide sustainability performance indicators and empower neighborhood leaders to drive collaboration and change.

City Energy Efficiency Upgrades (Memphis Clean and Green Program)

As part of the City’s Clean & Green program, the Office of Sustainability and Bioworks are coordinating an energy upgrade at the Central Library.  This project is the first in a series of energy efficiency upgrades to numerous city buildings that will be conducted by an Energy Service Company.  The company’s proposal guarantees that the work completed on the facility will achieve a specified annual savings on energy costs for each project.  The energy savings generated will be used to finance the debt service for each project.   


Complete Streets

Under the Complete Streets Policy, streets are designed to “adequately accommodate all users of a corridor” which includes not just bicycles, buses, cars and freight, but also elderly pedestrians and those with disabilities.  The policy was written specifically to encourage designers and engineers “to use an interdisciplinary approach to incorporate the needs of all users into the design and construction of roadway projects in the City of Memphis.”  The policy was adopted by City of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr. in the form of an Executive Order in 2013. Shelby County Government is committed to applying these concepts into the design of street projects in the urbanized areas served by the County. 

Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds (QECBs)

The State of TN has allocated low interest bonds (75% of interest is subsidized by a direct payment from the federal Government) to several large municipalities in TN for energy conservation projects.  The City of Memphis was allocated $7.14 Million.  The City of Memphis has elected to use its funds to form the Memphis Green Communities Program, which will make funds for energy efficiency available to businesses throughout the City of Memphis.  The final structure for the program is being finalized.  

Tracking Energy Use in Several Public Buildings (Strategy 6.3.2)

Using Energy Star’s free online Portfolio Manager, the Office of Sustainability is tracking the energy usage (electric, gas, and water) of several City and County owned buildings.  The data is being used to determine which buildings have the potential for greater energy savings through energy upgrades.  Once upgrades are chosen and completed, the energy savings can be monitored through Portfolio Manager. 

Solar Panels on Government Properties (Memphis Clean and Green Program)

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) awarded a Clean Tennessee Energy grant of $80,000 to the City of Memphis.  The City of Memphis Division of Parks and Neighborhoods plans to implement a 50-kilowatt solar array at the Lichterman Nature Center, which is visited by 40,000 students annually. This would be the first solar installation of its size on City of Memphis property. Partners include Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and City of Memphis General Services.


Bike Racks

Through the Health Department’s Air Board, the Office of Sustainability applied in 2013 for $4,000 from their penalty funds to supply various county buildings with bike racks.  Bike racks were installed July 2014 at these locations: Trustee’s building and Clerk’s building.  In August one will be installed at Code Enforcement and two at Peggy Edmiston building.  Once construction at Vasco Smith building is completed another will be installed there.

Pay For Success

Stakeholders in Memphis have been exploring the use of Pay for Success (PFS) and Social Impact Bond (SIB) financing to support social services programming.  Industrial Economics, Inc. recently completed a feasibility study sponsored by the EPA to understand PFS applications in Memphis.  Since the completion of that study, stakeholders from government and philanthropy have continued to explore PFS opportunities.  Multiple potential issue areas have been identified as promising candidates for PFS financing including: blight, juvenile justice, early childhood education, and maternal/prenatal care.  The Office of Sustainability are involved in these discussions. 


Outreach: These initiatives are intended to engage the broader public in sustainability activities.

Sustainability Advisory Committee (Strategy 6.1.3)

The Sustainability Advisory Committee was formed to focus, support, and assist the work of the Office of Sustainability.  The members include participants from each municipality in Shelby County, grassroots leaders, sustainability experts, university researchers, and private citizens who reflect the diversity within our community.  The primary responsibility of the Committee is to monitor the progress of the Sustainable Shelby Implementation Plan, provide advice and support in program implementation and policy setting for the Office of Sustainability, and to hold periodic public meetings. 

Green Matters for Shelby County Women

A woman’s group focusing solely on networking of women in the sustainability or “green” sectors meet bimonthly.  This group was started in 2014 by ladies in the Office of Sustainability and TN Department of Environmental Conservation.  The first meeting was in June and featured Project Green Fork and Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.  The second meeting, held in August, featured the non-profit Clean Memphis.  Over 50 ladies are involved in this group. 

Host Sustainability Month (Strategy 5.1.2)

Each year since 2012, the Office of Sustainability hosts Sustainability Month in April.  Public awareness is heightened by the celebration of sustainability which calls attention to the progress being made in our community.  In 2014, several articles were published in the Commercial Appeal in April by Mayor Luttrell, Mayor Wharton, Robin Smithwick, and Robert Fockler.  The Office of Sustainability posted a calendar of community events for the month.  There were events scheduled by community groups during 28 of the 30 days in April.  The Office partnered with Memphis City Beautiful to coordinate the Green Up Day at City Hall, which served as an educational opportunity for employees in the Civic Plaza to learn about sustainable programs in the City of Memphis. 

Social Media Outreach (Strategy 5.1.1)

The Office of Sustainability frequently uses a wide variety of social media outlets to keep the public informed.  The Sustainable Shelby website, twitter account, and facebook are updated to include sustainability related articles published in local community papers and events happening around the city and county as well as Office of Sustainability news and announcements.