Congratulations to all of our 2021 inspiring nominees!
Inspiring Building Project
Charlotte Regional Realtors Association Headquarters was conceived to be a central, convenient location for members. This evolved into a community-driven vision, with room for a master plan that would continue to enhance the surrounding neighborhood for years to come, including urban street linkages, and revitalization of Pearl Park, one of Mecklenburg County's most historic parks that opened in the early 1940s for the African-American community. This goal was a reflection of the Canopy Housing Foundation, which creates housing opportunities through advocacy, education, funding and leadership. It was clear that their new building needed to be a tribute to the community and a visible testament to how they care about more than just real estate sales. This urban infill opportunity achieved all of its goals while remaining strong stewards of our environment, improving local connectivity, and making Pearl Park more accessible to the surrounding community. Features that may be more outwardly visible to occupants consist of numerous electric-charging stations, preferred green vehicle parking, bottle refill stations situated at each water cooler, and a large balcony providing inhabitants with a direct connection to the outdoors. With the strategic systems in place to measure and monitor overall energy and water use, energy performance has been optimized to 28%, and even with more convenient access to drinking water, total water use has been reduced to 32%. Low emitting materials greatly reduced risk factors for occupant health, along with convenient walking access to nearby attractions.
NOVEL Atherton by Crescent Communities is a unique mid-rise community that features 346 residences and provides direct access to retail, dining, and light-rail travel. The community is a superior example of mixed-use infill development on a site that is both transit-oriented and pedestrian-friendly. Crescent Communities partnered with Columbia, SC-based EDENS to revitalize the Atherton Mill site, which includes more than 110,000 square feet of curated retail space surrounding the apartment community. A full-sized grocer is adjacent to the community, as well as a host of additional amenities. Further, the community achieved certification through the National Green Building Standard (NGBS), a third-party verification that their residences are energy and resource-efficient.
Steven's Creek Nature Center's site was designed by LandDesign and led by Architects Neighboring Concepts, taking advantage of the natural amenities on the 275-acre site. Beginning with a meandering entrance drive that flows around large growth trees, the creek informs the overall experience for visitors with a strong emphasis on stormwater management. The entry drive mimicked the flow of the creek which allowed us to be sensitive to the large growth trees but also begin the build-up of suspense for turning the corner and experiencing the building as a gateway to the larger preserve by framing views to the outdoors. The project utilizes low-impact and regenerative design by working with and restoring the land through native planting, regionally sourced building materials and carefully integrates active systems into the site design. Naturalized berms and rain gardens serve as just a few of the integrated educational tools to help teach children about water cycles and creek health and are carefully interwoven into the site. The bioswales and rain gardens naturally enhance the aesthetic of the Nature Center and reinforce the program of providing an educational experience for visitors. The focus of the nature center will be on stream ecology, with indoor and outdoor learning spaces for environmental education and engagement. This project has served the greater charlotte community by acting as a catalyst for developing green infrastructure and generated interest in non-vehicular pedestrian/bicycle connections, such as future extension of the Steven’s Creek greenway expansion that will connect to the center.
A Servant's Heart Charitable Foundation provides programmatic support, resources/training and fellowship to individuals around the world through organizational outreach efforts, advocacy, and also partnerships with domestic and international organizations. developed and implemented an educational program (SUSTAINABILITY 101 Youth Leadership Training) to teach pre-teens and teens about sustainability and ways they can get involved with sustainability at home, in their communities, and around the world.
AirKeepers Citizen scientists—AirKeepers like Ron Ross, Mattie Marshall, and William Hughes—have been utilizing portable air sensors to measure air pollution levels in their neighborhoods and making the information they collect available to the community for the last two years. They are measuring fine particle pollution (PM2.5): invisible solid and liquid matter floating in the air that can cause serious public health issues. These particles are small enough to pass through the lungs and directly enter the bloodstream. There is no safe level of exposure to particle pollution and it can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood-based on sources of pollution, wind direction, and weather. Different levels of exposure over time have been shown to correlate with high degrees of disparity in premature death rates. The experiences of the AirKeepers during this two-year project can help inform policymakers, planners, and other neighborhood leaders to create healthy, sustainable neighborhoods and protect air quality for all Charlotte residents.
Anne Springs Close Greenway provides recreational, educational, and community activities and facilities in the Fort Mill area. The Greenway is a 2,100-acre nature preserve that offers hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and more to its visitors. Nestled as a natural oasis amidst the Fort Mill and greater Charlotte area bustle and growth, the Greenway sees over 275,000 unique visitors annually. The mission of the Greenway is to “connect people to nature through recreational and educational activities while fostering a passion for environmental conservation, animal habitat, and protection of natural resources.” In 2019, the Greenway constructed a new welcome center called the Gateway. The Greenway Gateway employs a variety of passive and active sustainable systems that aim to drastically reduce energy consumption, improve thermal comfort, conserve water, and improve indoor air quality. The Gateway’s sustainability initiatives serve to engage, educate, and inspire future generations while driving leadership in environmental conservation and stewardship.
Charlotte Wildlife Stewards - One of 19 chapters of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, our all-volunteer organization is focused on the Charlotte region with our mission: "To create, preserve, and protect wildlife habitat through education, engagement, and enjoyment." We believe that our city can have both economic growth while providing healthy ecosystems for wildlife to thrive. Through our many community programs such as "I Spy...", "Kids in Nature Day", and our monthly webinar programs, we work with our partners and neighbors to promote healthy ecosystems in the landscape. Our efforts helped Charlotte become one of the Top Ten Cities for Wildlife, as recognized by the National Wildlife Federation. Currently, Charlotte has over 1,383 certified wildlife habitats which includes, homes, schools, businesses, and places of worship.
Learn to Ride is a program that teaches participants of all ages how to effectively ride a bike without training wheels, exposing them to the freedom and capabilities that come with people-powered transportation. Learn to Ride was created to address the request of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County parents to help them teach their kids to ride. Program managers quickly realized the need and desire to teach grown-ups, too, realizing it’s never too late to learn this life skill. Now in its seventh year, Learn to Ride is a 100% volunteer program that hosts five (5) free community events each year, and has helped thousands of kids (and grown-ups!) of all ages learn to ride a bike.
Lindsay Pettus Greenway is a 100% volunteer-led organization with an unprecedented amount of private and public collaboration to build a six-mile trail system in Lancaster, SC. Every dollar raised is used to plan, build, and promote the Lindsay Pettus Greenway. The Greenway is an integrated component of the City of Lancaster's Downtown Revitalization efforts. The Lindsay Pettus Greenway will be an alternative way to travel, while also serving as an environmental education area for all of Lancaster County. They're intentionally connecting two neighborhoods located in two SC opportunity zones and separated by Main Street together and are weaving near four schools to create new norms to experience their small town.
Para Guide Foundation was founded in Charlotte, NC in 2017 with the purpose of enabling para-visually impaired individuals to experience a more enriched life through guided physical activities. The services provided by Para Guide include sighted guides for para-visually impaired individuals who want to walk, run, cycle, swim or participate in group exercise events. With transportation being one of the biggest challenges for para-visually impaired individuals, Para Guide provides transportation to and from events for our athletes. Para Guide also provides coaching and training plans for para-visually impaired individuals who need to prepare for an up-and-coming athletic event. Para Guide raises funds from local supporters and events to fulfill scholarships for para-visually impaired individuals who need assistance with race and event entries, equipment, travel and maintenance for their gear.
Piedmont Culinary Guild is founded on the principle of developing and sustaining our local food system and growing the local food economy. PCG is a hub for innovative chefs, farmers, food artisans, culinary educators, and others committed to educating and engaging consumers to preserve and protect our local lands and the flavors they provide. PCG aims to connect the food chain by providing a platform for engagement, education, and economic support of local and sustainable food sources, and to obtain regional recognition of the talent and passion of our local food purveyors. PCG started in Charlotte and in 2019 has expanded into the Triad and Triangle and will soon be in Asheville. The “sister guilds” in those areas will continue spreading the message of agricultural sustainability and local food security across NC, while also creating a network for culinary professionals in those communities to deepen relationships, encourage growth, and increase engagement with consumers.
Sisters of Mercy is an international community of Roman Catholic women who dedicate their lives to the Gospel of Jesus and take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and service. Inspired by the life of Jesus and by founder Catherine McAuley, the Sisters envision a just world for people who are poor, sick, and uneducated. They commit their lives to God and use their resources to serve, advocate and pray for those in need around the world. Through prayer and service, the Sisters address 5 Critical Concerns: Degradation of Earth, Promoting Nonviolence, Dismantling Institutional Racism, Supporting Immigrants, and Supporting Women. One of the Five Critical Missions of the organization is Earth Care. The Sisters of Mercy believe in the need to work toward the sustainability of life and support movements and legislation that secure the fundamental right to water for everyone, and that address climate change.
West Side Community Land Trust's mission is to develop permanently affordable housing with community-centered development in west Charlotte and throughout Charlotte. WSCLT is an organization dedicated to affordable housing in Charlotte. They have taken the approach of finding unwanted, habitable homes such as those purchased as a “tear down”, and moving those homes to a property they own to provide an affordable home for moderate-income buyers.
Inspiring Large Business
Barrings, LLC is a global financial services firm dedicated to meeting the evolving investment and capital needs of their clients and customers. Through active asset management and direct origination, they provide innovative solutions and access to differentiated opportunities across public and private capital markets. As a partner to the United Nations Global Compact, in support of the Sustainable Development Goals, Barings is committed to the pursuit of a sustainable future—for their business, associates, and the communities around us. Numerous Barings’ office properties are efficient buildings and top performers. One of the buildings that is most reflective of these values is the Barings global headquarters in Charlotte. Completed in 2017, the property earned a LEED BD+C: Core and Shell v3 Gold certification. In addition to this prestigious sustainability recognition, the property is pursuing LEED for existing buildings in 2020.
Waste streams represent a substantial environmental consideration, and every effort is made to ensure that the waste taken from our premises is disposed of as responsibly as possible. In Charlotte, we are now composting food waste, removing under-desk trash bins in favor of a centralized waste disposal system, and utilizing recycling stations that have been installed. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups are provided to all employees, and we are working to eliminate single-use plastics across the office in 2020.
Camden are passionate designers, managers, and maintainers of the best multifamily communities in the country. The Camden family is on a mission to exceed market expectations and help you find the best place to call home. Camden is one of the only developers using southern energy management and striving to be more sustainable.
Ginkgo Residential - The Ginkgo tree is arguably the most sustainable plant in the history of the world, with a magnificent design that has survived over 200 million years of existence. The Ginkgo defines our ideal as a company: strong, deep-rooted, adaptable, and tenacious. With that in mind, the idea for Ginkgo Residential as a brand was formed. They invest in a solid core culture and exceptional customer service, and we strive to be greener, practicing more environmentally sensitive operations with every step we take. Ginkgo Residential currently manages 35 apartment communities and practices green initiatives at each. Ginkgo partnered with a company, Apple Blossom, to assess each unit to solve any air insulation or energy needs. Apple Blossom completes a blower door test to locate air leaks and drafts within each apartment home and seals those drafts and insulates each unit with high-quality insulation. Ginkgo’s water and sewer expenses are passed through to the residents through submetering. In an effort to continue to help lower water consumption and costs, Ginkgo installed new low-flow toilets in each unit. New showerheads were also installed in each unit for a total of 889 showerheads. In summer 2019, the solar panels were activated and a total energy saving in 2019 was roughly $9,000 that was offset by solar power.
Grubb Properties creates exceptional real estate environments through the repositioning of office buildings and the development of multifamily communities under their nationally registered Link Apartments® brand. Innovation in housing affordability has been a cornerstone of their company since its founding in 1963 when the company overcame “redlining” — used by banks to limit lending in minority neighborhoods — by forming a not-for-profit financing arm to build and finance more than 400 homes. Today they are focused on addressing the housing affordability crisis and promoting better communities through their Link Apartments® brand. Grubb Properties has committed to creating, investing in, and developing a highly innovative, efficient, and scalable solution to America’s housing shortage. Their Link Apartments® brand provides a new, urban, amenity-rich multifamily product that is affordable to households making as little as 60% of area median income. One way they achieve this is through our shared parking model, which provides a significant cost advantage, allowing us to build new multifamily product at a price point that is attainable for more renters. It also promotes smart land use, reduces the impact of stormwater runoff, and adds tax base.
PNC Music Pavilion became the first Live Nation venue to hit zero waste by diverting over 90% of their concert-generated waste from the landfill and have maintained their title as the Live Nation venue with the highest diversion rate nationally. Zero waste stations are installed around the venue offering fans as well as food vendors an easy way to separate recycling, compost, and landfill trash. Water refill stations are located around the venue to encourage refilling water bottles, reducing the number of plastic water bottles used. In 2018, the venue eliminated plastic straws and serves food and beverages in recyclable or compostable containers. Through a partnership with Earth Farms, the venue composted nearly 97,000 lbs. of food scraps and organic material in 2019. Additionally, they recycled nearly 150,000 lbs., and donated nearly 2,400 lbs. of clothing through fan-supported on-site clothing drives. There is a zero-waste team of 10 individuals, led by Mac Goodrum, venue Operations Director, and Katrina Pitts, Sustainability Coordinator. Katrina directly manages the on-site zero-waste team, promotes sustainability efforts, and tracks all program data.
Stantec always designs with community in mind. They care about the communities they serve, because it is their community too. This allows Stantec to assess what's needed and connect their expertise, to appreciate nuances and envision what's never been considered, to bring together diverse perspectives so they can collaborate toward a shared success. Their Urban Places initiative is a team of urban-focused experts in: transportation, including smart and shared mobility; resilience; planning and urban design; smart cities; mixed use architecture; and brownfield redevelopment. They created Smart Growth and Complete Streets plans in Charlotte, Davidson, Troutman, Morganton, and Albemarle that are being implemented. They promote and mandate compact, walkable development patterns, the creation and preservation of open space, mixed-use environments, connected networks of high-quality pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and alternative mobility solutions including transit and shared autonomous vehicles.
Inspiring Small Business
Advent Coworking, located in the Belmont neighborhood has been a pioneer in Charlotte coworking spaces with various programs they have organized and created. Sustainability is a core focus of Advent, so much so that in 2018/2019 they created a custom Sustainability Program. Focused on educating their members, as well as the Belmont neighborhood, Advent Coworking is involved with their own programs, as well as partnered with neighborhood programs and city-wide initiatives.
Around the Crown 10K is a small, family-owned, business whose crowning achievement is hosting an annual 10K run on I-277 around Uptown Charlotte. A local husband and wife couple started Around the Crown 10K with a mission of putting one foot in front of the other to move Charlotte forward. Changing expectations about how we use our roadways in a more active and sustainable way is at the heart of what the Around the Crown 10K is all about. In its inaugural year organizers created a sustainable race with nearly 5,000 runners on the Queen City's inner beltway while donating $20,000+ to local charities. The business inspired dozens of sponsors and thousands of Charlotteans to come together as a community in an inclusive and sustainable way. By focusing on sustainable living, encouraging active healthy lifestyles, spurring local investment, and reimagining our freeways as spaces for people, Around the Crown 10K is a model sustainability business that is making lives better.
Carolina Urban Lumber - A man walks into a woodshop... The gentleman carried boards from a cedar tree that he planted as a child. In a thoughtful display of upcycling, he wanted to use the boards to build his own casket. He had no intention of dying soon but wished to repurpose his childhood tree into something that would last forever. From that interaction with this particular customer, Carolina Urban Lumber's founder, Damon, started thinking differently about the trees around him and his impact on the world. He saw a vast amount of wood waste being sent to landfills on a daily basis and wanted to show the same amount of thoughtfulness with Charlotte's tree canopy that this customer exhibited with a single tree. Carolina Urban Lumber was formed to support conscious conservation efforts and to divert and reduce the number of trees that go to the landfill.
Charlotte Cycles sells folding, commuter, and cargo bicycles and tricycles for urban and rural mobility. Leading by example, their sustainable efforts range from reducing air pollution through sustainable transportation options to utilizing alternative energy sources and new technologies like solar panels and wood pellet stove heat. They are active advocates for improving the air quality in Charlotte through empowering our customers to utilize their bicycle or tricycle as a primary mode of transportation. Shared e-bikes are readily available in Uptown Charlotte, making sustainable transportation more accessible. With safe cycling infrastructure, people will become less dependent on cars and live a healthier lifestyle.
Ekologicall LLC - Ekologicall is a Zero Waste and Refill Shop based in South Charlotte. Passionate about the environment, founder Valerie wants to make a positive impact and help her community to live a healthy and sustainable life. She believes that small changes can make a big impact. Its mission is to empower the Charlotte community to lead the way to a healthier, simpler, and more sustainable lifestyle by changing our consumption habits. Valerie offers non-toxic and eco-friendly alternatives to household and personal care products, as well as workshops to help people transition into a low waste lifestyle. Valerie also offers a refill service where Ekologicall's clients can refill their shampoo, body lotion, conditioner, dish soap, hand soap, laundry detergent containers so we stop sending plastic bottles to the landfill.
Free Range Brewing strives to create unique and diverse beers that are heavily inspired by regionally and seasonally sourced ingredients in an effort to showcase the possibilities that partnerships within our community, as well as resources in our region, provide. Free Range Brewing believes it is important to foster creativity while building a strong community foundation. Whether it’s sourcing an ingredient, featuring an artist, supporting a cause or doing a full-on beer collaboration, it’s important to cultivate connections within the community. Our collaborations and partnerships with local farmers, chefs, artists, and businesses aren’t just to make better beer, but to build a better community. Every beer we make begins with a commitment to sourcing local and building relationships at every level and opportunity possible. All beers average 95% locally sourced ingredients. They regularly work to educate and engage our local brewing community on the importance of fostering community starting with one of the largest pieces of our businesses - the ingredients!
Haymaker Restaurant is an innovative farm-to-table restaurant by Chef William Dissen located on Romare Bearden Park in Uptown Charlotte that focuses on the use of hyper-local and sustainable ingredients. The building is a Leed Silver building and the space was built out using recycled and reused materials. The business strives to help make a positive impact by working with the community to grow the neighborhood into a place that supports local businesses, arts, and not-for-profit businesses. Haymaker Restaurant brings a fresh approach to Uptown Charlotte by forward-thinking food operations that focus on sustainable food systems and working with local farms, artisans, and suppliers to create innovative Southern leaning cuisine. The restaurant focuses on reducing waste, lowering our carbon footprint, and using energy-efficient cookware and refrigeration to operate in the typically wasteful restaurant world.
Leaf Burrito is a patented and revolutionary yard waste collection product invented right here in Charlotte, NC. This durable mesh bag with heavy-duty YKK® zippers and ergonomic handles eliminates the need for both single-use plastic and paper bags. The City of Charlotte has been successfully “curbside emptying” the bags from residential homes for 36 months and has thwarted many thousands of plastic bags from landfills. The company is 5 years old and now has a strong international presence in the landscaping and university grounds maintenance markets. The company is self-funded and headquartered in Charlotte, NC with four employees and an interim manufacturing plant in Jamestown, KY. The company’s goal is to create a Burrito Factory in an Opportunity Zone where it hopes to create over 1000 jobs in its manufacturing, administration, fulfillment, accounting, sales and marketing. The company plans on using locally sourced recycled materials to create the product’s components.
Modern Fabrics - Since 2007, Modern Fabrics have been reclaiming designer textiles that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. The Powells, owners of Modern Fabrics, collect approximately 15,000 yards of fabric every month and sell these fabrics at a 40 to 60 percent discount through their storefront at 4450 South Blvd in Charlotte, NC. James Powell, who worked in the furniture industry, saw excess fabric headed for the landfill and came up with the idea of selling the high-end designer textiles at discount prices to businesses and homes. All of Modern Fabric’s product offerings were once slated for the landfill and are currently being resold to homeowners, upholsterers, interior designers and hobbyists who believe in the reuse of furniture and reducing their global footprint.
My Mindful Nest is the brainchild and heart child of Renee Haywood. Renee holds a degree in interior design and certifications in home staging through Staged Homes as well as a Green Leader through the Sustainable Furnishings Council. Additionally, she is a member of the National Association of Productivity and Organization Professionals. Inspired by her personal journey with breast cancer, Renee took a closer look at the correlation of clutter and quality of life. She started downsizing and saw her life begin to change. By letting go of the unimportant, she was able to uncover her true calling and now she works with others in a non-judgmental setting to do the same. Renee will work with individuals to create organizational systems and restyle homes and offices with eco-friendly furnishings. The impact: free space in your home and mind and lower your toxic load, all while honoring those living and working in those spaces.
Neighboring Concepts is a uniquely inventive, multi-disciplinary design firm located in Charlotte's Historic West End that works daily to create opportunities for all Charlotteans. Since their start in 1996 in an incubator space of JCSU, they have emerged as a local design team tackling some of Charlotte’s toughest challenges. They are architects, planners and designers creating elegant, sustainable projects that enable many of our local communities to achieve their dreams. While we may not always know it, we all enjoy the high-quality public places, transit facilities, and community facilities that they have designed. They design places to work, play, and gather sustainably, which uniquely empower the lives of Charlotteans by creating a sustainable future all can enjoy.
Nourish Charlotte, launched in spring, 2012, is Charlotte's first plant-based, almost 100% organic, whole-foods-based, healthy prepared food delivery service. Serving customers weekly from Mooresville to northern SC, the company has worked steadily to source as much as possible locally (for all aspects of the business) and to radically "green" its kitchen and operations, to be good stewards of its customers and also our community and planet.
Pure Pizza has 2 locations in Charlotte. They offer farm-2-fork pizzas, salads, and sandwiches from local Carolina and Southeastern farms. They have a commitment to showing you where your food comes from. They source as much as possible that is local/sustainable and or organic cutting out refined oils and sugars, no high-fructose corn syrup and GMOs. They also decided to make a commitment to the environment with how they prepare their food, the small wares on which they serve, and their recycling/composting initiatives. They pay living wages and have a commitment to sustainable neighborhoods. They choose locations in urban settings which provide unique artistic bike parking to encourage guests to ride and walk rather than drive. Pure Pizza also has monthly opportunities for employees and customers to become engaged in hands-on experiences with local nonprofits.
Smelly Cat Coffee is a quaint, local, neighborhood coffeehouse packed with personality. It is also a master coffee roaster. They have cut back on single-use items and as of July 1, 2019, they’re strawless and encourage people to use their own cup, when they do, they save 10 cents and receive a poker chip to donate 10 cents to 1 of 6 charities. They no longer use the dumpster for trash; due to composting and recycling waste. They replaced the 5 lb. whole bean single-use bags with Airscape bucket inserts! This allowed them to reuse the buckets for in-house beans saving at least 50 single-use bags a week.
Sun Raised Farms works with a network of sheep farmers that graze their flocks on solar farms across the state of NC. They are creating a local food (lamb) product that benefits local communities across the state, starting in the Charlotte market, while promoting renewable solar energy and sustainable agriculture. The lamb they raise are Animal Welfare Approved guaranteeing a humanely raised local product that is on many menus across the greater Charlotte area. Sun Raised lamb is pasture-raised on solar farms in North Carolina. They raise lamb to the highest Animal Welfare Standards with life outdoors, producing healthy animals without hormones or antibiotics.
Wild Hope Farm is a diverse organic vegetable and flower farm, passionate about bringing high-quality food into our local communities through a sustainable approach. As a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, they have a direct partnership between local consumers and our farm, enabling you to buy fresh and support local. Through on-farm gatherings, we are actively growing our land into a place for education, exploration, and celebration centered around nature. Our environmental stewardship goals go beyond farming to regenerative land management. We do this through several different types of projects including retention ponds, native warm-season grass restoration through controlled burns, creating pollinators plots, adding native fruit trees, and investing in renewable energy.
Renee Bradley, a resident of Plaza Midwood, team member at Bank of America, and a positive & friendly ray of sunshine deserves to be recognized with a Charlotte Sustainability Award. She is an advocate for safe bike and pedestrian travel in her community, and her actions align with the mission of Sustain Charlotte to inspire choices that lead to a healthy, equitable, and vibrant community for generations to come. Renee has served as the chair for the Stroll and Roll Plaza Midwood committee, an organization that she founded, with a mission to advocate for a more pedestrian and bicyclist-friendly neighborhood. She is ultimately responsible for the newly opened bike lanes on The Plaza, a result of years of collaboration in partnership with Sustain Charlotte bringing together many entities including the neighborhood, the City of Charlotte, DOT, and many others.
Renee Haywood is a realtor, interior designer, home stager, organizing professional, and certified GreenLeader via Sustainable Furnishings Council. But if I were to give Renee a title, it would be Sage. Renee is not only knowledgeable in ways to makeover your home in the most environmentally-friendly way, but she is also wise without being a know-it-all, thoughtful without being preachy, and she teaches by example. I have learned more ways to transform my everyday life from just a handful of Renee’s Instagram posts, for example, than I ever learned in school. That’s because Renee lives it, and isn't afraid to share her personal journey, including triumphs and struggles, on her path to a more sustainable life. It isn't just about being "green" so that she fills a niche in her industry. She is truly setting an example for others in her field and for her clients to change they way we think about "sustainable living."
William and Tiffany Hughes are a couple that has invested in making their home in West Charlotte as sustainable as they can. They are leaders in a community where sustainability has not necessarily been one of the top issues. The Hughes have been making personal investments in making their home environmentally sustainable. They have installed solar panels, planted a garden, and collect their rainwater. They improved their home gradually over the years to get to where they are now. It's a commitment on a personal level that many in our community don't make. They are a model for investing wisely and sustainably right here in Charlotte.
Parks Hunter is a small business owner in the Charlotte area who owns LeafSpring School at Matthews and LeafSpring School at Ballantyne. The mission of these daycares is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for children to grow and develop. Parks has set the following vision for his daycares: “Fundamental to our program is the belief that children are unique individuals who need to be respected and cared for in a safe, nurturing environment. In the operation of his business, Parks has prioritized sustainability and environmental stewardship. On both facilities, Parks has installed a solar system to offset a large portion of the facility’s electricity consumption and mitigate its carbon footprint. The solar systems have the added benefit of serving as a tool to educate the students about renewable energy technologies and the importance of being good environmental stewards. At his Ballantyne location, Parks had a 40 kW solar system installed in early 2018. This system produces approximately 55,000 kWh annually, which provides over $4,500 in electric bill savings. More importantly to Parks, however, the system replaces over 40 tons of carbon dioxide emissions with clean energy each year (according to the US EPA greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator).
Dave Molinaro - For the last 6 years, Dave Molinaro has been the leader/advocate of the Burtonwood neighborhood and the adjacent Margaret Wallace Park. With Burtonwood, he has led the tree banding efforts. With Mason Wallace Park he lead the Mason Wallace Park Advocates/Friends of Mason Wallace Park. Dave has engaged several communities in the neighborhood. They include MoRA (Monroe Road Advocates), Burtonwood, East Mecklenburg H.S., Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, relevant City Council members, and County Commissioners.
Greg Walter is the Executive Vice President and General Manager at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In his role, Greg oversees all operations of the motorsports megaplex campus, which includes the famed 1.5-mile superspeedway and the Roval, as well as zMAX Dragway and The Dirt Track. Greg deserves to be recognized for his role in Charlotte Motor Speedway’s decision to install a 247 kW solar system at the Speedway in 2019. The 42,000-square-foot Turn 4 Sun Deck is powered by 773 solar panels that produce more than 315,000 kilowatt-hours a year, reducing energy costs at the track by $25,000 annually. This solar investment not only saves money but also demonstrates Charlotte Motor Speedway’s long-term commitment to the local community and their environmental stewardship. The Turn 4 Sun Deck offers racing fans a wide array of entertainment, food, and hospitality options at NASCAR events while allowing CMS to significantly reduce its carbon footprint with solar power. Over the next 30 years, the system is projected to produce over 8,400,000 kWh of electricity. This is equivalent to avoiding 6,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Beth Wytiaz has been working in sustainability for the last 14 years. She started this work with Quaintance-Weaver Hospitality helping to certify the world’s first LEED® Platinum hotel before transitioning in 2010 to the Global Environment Group within the Environmental, Social and Governance division at Bank of America. For the last several years, Beth has led BofA environmental operations to work globally. She is responsible for reducing the bank's environmental impact across facilities and supply chain. She is passionate about environmental and social justice issues and seeks to engage others to drive change. She serves on the boards of SpringClean and the Market Leadership Advisory Board for the US Green Building Council Carolinas Community. She is a member of the City of Charlotte Strategic Energy Action Plan (SEAP) External Content Group for Energy and volunteers with numerous environmental groups each year. Beth led Bank of America in the achievement of carbon neutrality and sourcing 100% renewable electricity one year ahead of schedule.
Inspiring Government Agency
Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) - CATS Mission: To improve the quality of life for everyone in the greater Charlotte region by providing outstanding community-wide public transportation services while proactively contributing to focused growth and sustainable regional development. CDOT Mission: CDOT is committed to enhancing the driving, bicycling, and walking experience through planning, operating, and maintaining the City's transportation choices for residents and visitors. An important objective is to sustain, maintain and enhance the City's transportation infrastructure. Way2Go CLT was Charlotte Area Transit System’s commute tracking and rewards platform that encourages the Greater Charlotte community to alternatively commute. The platform includes an online dashboard and innovative smartphone application that allows users to log their alternative commutes in a convenient and intuitive way. Way2Go CLT provides a trip planning platform that provides comprehensive information to new and potential clean commuters about their alternative commuting options, including transit routes, potential carpool or vanpool partners and walking or biking routes. The platforms also records CO2 emissions saved, calories burned and money saved through alternatively commuting and users can see their own personal stats. This program also includes an inclusive rewards program, CommuteRewards, in which users can earn points for their logged alternative commutes and redeem those points for gift cards. The platform is free to use and open to any commuters.
City of Charlotte Planning, Design & Development Department - The Planning, Design and Development Department of the City of Charlotte is responsible for creating great places in our community through collaborating with community planners, using innovative and creative solutions to guide growth, sustaining our natural environment, preserving the character of our neighborhoods and designing vibrant and inclusive places.
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Commission - The PRC consists of appointed citizen-volunteers who spend hundreds of hours annually to meet with Park staff, coordinates the work of 100's more parks advisory council volunteers and advocates for governmental transparency to build a sustainable park system for Mecklenburg County. With our community ranking last among 100 municipal cities in America, and hundreds of thousands of new residents pouring in, in 2018, the PRC has taken the lead to call attention to our lack of Greenspace acquisition, invasive species, under-developed greenways, and much more.
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