Outcomes & Highlights

3rd Corporate Sustainability Roundtable

Hosted by Piedmont Natural Gas on 10 May 2018

Theme: energy savings and LEED


We had a great turn out and engagement for our 3rd Roundtable meeting, 32 attendees representing 14 corporations, the Mayor’s office, Hands on Nashville, Wilmont Inc. consulting, Nashville Metro Planning, and our resident experts. It was exciting to hear about the steps corporations are starting to take such as joining Get Food Smart TN and new recycling efforts. Thank you to all who participated! And to those who could not make it, we look forward to seeing you at our next Roundtable on August 23rd hosted at Kroger.


Featured service provider: After introductions, we started the meeting with Josef Kaul, Director of Programs for Hands on Nashville.  Hands on Nashville helps to meet community needs through volunteerism. They can customize service events for corporations and placements with other ngos.

  • To learn more and see how you might engage your corporation in volunteer opportunities, go HERE.  


Middle Point Landfill: Maria Vollmer from Willmont Inc. provided a quick overview of the impending closure of Middle Point Landfill.  For corporations this will mean increased disposal costs in the future. But it also provides a great incentive for corporations to learn and implement waste reduction measures.

  • Learn about the landfill issue HERE

  • Maria has also shared an article about a proposed ban on plastic bags in Nashville. View the article HERE

Mike Vandenberg and Alex Maxi from Vanderbilt University:  They are studying employee energy benefits and interested in working with local corporations who are interested in specific employee behavior change around sustainability issues.  The purpose is to assess what sustainable workplace behaviors work and what doesn’t work. From this partnership, University of Vanderbilt can publish their results and corporations can improve sustainability and perhaps even bring public recognition to your efforts.

  • Learn more from Mike and his colleagues about this exciting opportunity HERE


Holly Baird with Milepost Consulting: Transparency is the new Green!

Holly, one of two resident experts for the Roundtable, provide an overview on US Green Building Council (USGBC) which has a mission to transform the way new and existing buildings and communities are designed, built, operated, and maintained. There are numerous rating systems and tools available to fit each situation that can help to use less energy and water, divert less to landfills, reduce CO2 emissions, & increase employee productivity.

  • Learn about LEED here.  

  • Learn about Arc here, a platform to help collect, manage, and benchmark your data to improve sustainability performance.   

  • Holly’s slides are available HERE.


Cory Duggin with TLC Engineering for Architecture: You can’t start going until you know where you are.

Cory discussed the importance of finding out what your company’s current energy consumption by doing an energy audit and then tracking energy usage. He provided some low energy cost measures such as replacing lighting, updating older heating/cooling systems, and upgrading control systems. We also learned about the USGBC TN Impact Benchmarking Challenge. Upload your baseline data into Arc by June 30th. Awards for the most improved energy, water and waste scores.  

  • Cory's slides are available HERE.


Stephen Francescon with Piedmont Natural Gas: Stephen highlighted for us the history and current state of their LEED Gold certified building. Interesting facts included 94% of construction material waste was diverted, 5 acres of wetlands around building is protected, much of their operations run on natural gas, which has fewer greenhouse gas emissions. He also discuss the culture of the company and the employees, and the challenges of integrating a green team, accountability, and tracking measurements.

  • Stephen has shared the list of vendors Piedmont uses for their recycling:
    • HEPACO---for our small amounts of Hazardous waste (soap, cleaners, etc)

    • Clean Harbors---for large amounts of Hazardous waste (paint, batteries, e-trash, oil, light bulbs, etc)

    • Queen City Disposal---for our Daily Trash

    • Waste Management---for our cardboard, cans, bottles


Breakout and Large Group Discussion

We asked Roundtable participants to discuss four questions around the energy and LEED issue and presentations. We’ve highlighted some of the responses:

1. Obstacles – What barriers (policy, operations, resources, etc.) might your company or other companies have in starting energy savings measures?

  • Changing status quo

  • employee engagement

  • Management, leadership

  • Expenses, limited capital funds and investment, costs for commissioning audits

  • Not a lot of tax incentives for reducing energy waste or investing in new technologies

  • How to find financing outside of corporation to help

  • not owning the property, leasing

  • Old buildings


  • Transit issues

  • behavior/habits/participation

  • Using the right tools, need technology expertise

  • Who will spearhead


2. Stakeholders – Who are the key stakeholders in your company who manage (or might manage) energy and energy conservation initiatives, and why are they important

  • Senior staff and leadership

  • Facilities and maintenance managers

  • sustainability managers

  • procurement

  • Owning the building versus leasing, property owners

  • Finance department

  • Board of Directors - how involved, see results sooner with smaller investment, working group to help

  • HR

  • Users, all staff

  • Home office if not headquarters

  • The public, mayor's office


3. Benefits/challenge –  Why is it important for your company’s culture to be transparent about metrics around energy costs and savings?  Can you see any challenges in doing so?

  • Can’t manager what you can’t measures

  • You can’t save what you don’t track

  • May lose momentum if employees note lagging progress

  • ‘That’ department is using the ‘most’ - blame within a corporation

  • Finding funds for education

  • Create a sense of competition

  • Motivate with sharing results

  • Huge marketing opportunity

  • How to ensure measures are accurate

  • Concern about looking bad. Make results public or keep internal


4. Additional Guidance – What additional information or guidance would your company need to start or improve an energy conservation program?

  • Prepared curriculum including engaging activities

  • Structured plan for how to get started

  • Time

  • How to engage people with low interest - friendly competition

  • Illustrate solid ROI

  • Incentives

  • Raise awareness

  • Keep the information going, keep up the good work

  • How to do the internal pitch

  • How to isolate your costs

  • How to quickly get ROI

  • Hard numbers of similar companies that show their improvements and ROI to convince leadership with concrete examples


And finally….

A big thank you to Stephen for hosting and our resident expert presenters  The tour was inspirational and Las Paletas was yummy. For those who attended the Roundtable, if I’ve left out anything from the meeting or if there is anything else you’d like to share, please let me know. Thanks and see you all on August 23rd for our next Roundtable.