Nashville, Tennessee, brands itself as Music City, USA. To a large extent, that is true, but it is not the entire story. I recently spent several days in Nashville at a conference, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see many instances of sustainability in practice. My first clue was the sign noting that the Music City Conference Center (where my conference was held) is a LEED Gold certified facility. That was interesting, and really something I had not anticipated. Nor did I anticipate learning of the center’s 4 acre green roof, part of which is inhabited by clusters of honey bees.
Like in many green buildings, water usage (or, the lessening of water usage) is a big deal for the Music City Center. Part of this is achieved via a 360,000 gallon rainwater collector (some of which supplies the toilets and urinals in the bathrooms). The building’s managers cite a 3,000,000 gallon reduction in water usage due to collecting rainwater. Other sustainable aspects of the building and complex include the usage of LED light bulbs in the parking garage, an extensive recycling program, and an array of solar panels.
If I had been prepared, I could have easily crossed the street from the Music City Center to grab a bike using Nashville’s subscription bicycle program. This is similar to Philadelphia’s Indego and New York’s Citibike programs where you pick up a bike at a station, ride it to another station (or the same one), and go about your way. It is a great program—except that I was in conference clothes, not bike riding clothes.
Not too long after I noticed the bike station, I saw a Blue Circuit bus come by. This is one of 2 free bus loops around various parts of downtown Nashville—emphasis on the word free. Baltimore also has similar bus circulator loops, which highly encourage people to not drive their cars around town. To complete the loop (in a manner of speaking), I was even able to catch the airport bus into and out of town.
Downtown Nashville is very walkable, and not just the music section on Broadway. There is also a large pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River, which just happens to connect downtown to the NFL stadium (Nissan Stadium). This alone eliminates thousands of car trips each NFL Sunday (and obviates the need for many parking spaces as well).
I had a wonderful time in Nashville. The conference was highly educational and the amount of easily accessible live music at anytime of the day or night was phenomenal. The readily observable sustainability aspects were also really cool.