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EPA Awards Tennessee Nonprofit $186,000 to Advance Green Building and Protect Cumberland Basin


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today presented an $186,051 grant to the Cumberland River Compact (Compact), a nonprofit organization based in Nashville, for work to advance sustainable residential building in Tennessee and to explore the combination of existing green building programs and certifications into more holistic national standards.

The grant was made through EPA’s Southeastern Regional Environmental Priority (REP) program, which supports new approaches to environmental priorities and tests unproven technologies or models that can be used in other communities and sectors. Between 2002 and 2006, EPA Region 4 has provided more than $1.2 million in REP grants and has, in turn, leveraged an additional $1 million through the projects. The Compact’s project is one of eight REP grants being funded this year in the region.

“EPA understands that the health and prosperity of our nation is dependent on the sustainability and security of our water resources. Thankfully, working with leaders like the Cumberland River Compact, we are keeping our nation’s environmental progress flowing into the future,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Today’s EPA grant will help build on our partner’s progress of promoting green development and stream restoration practices that benefit the people, communities and water quality throughout the Cumberland River Watershed.”

The Compact’s REP project builds on work that the EPA previously funded through a Targeted Watershed Grant in 2003 to construct three sustainable demonstration homes.

Through the new grant, the Compact will train builders, developers and local officials to use a combination of sustainable site design and building practices, along with environmentally sensitive local ordinances. The Compact will demonstrate how these efforts can conserve water and energy and ultimately lower communities’ long-term infrastructure costs and save homeowners’ money. Savings will be documented in a comprehensive economic analysis report that will be widely disseminated among development professionals along with a Sustainable Building Training Manual. Lastly, the Compact will convene government, nonprofit and professional development and building partners with expertise in various green building certification programs. The experts will consider combining aspects of the certification programs into more holistic national sustainable building standards that address water quality and quantity, energy conservation and indoor health.

“Today, there is no easy way for homebuyers to verify developers’ claims that residences are sustainable or to compare one ‘green’ home against another,” said Regional Administrator Jimmy Palmer. “Through this grant, the Compact will take the first step in bringing together green building experts from around the country to develop more holistic green residential standards that will provide certainty for consumers as well as protect the environment.”

Across the Southeast, increased growth has led to more water pollution from sedimentation and urban runoff. At the same time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Southeast has lost more open space to sprawl than any other region in the country. The Compact works with developers and local governments on innovative strategies that go beyond compliance to stop the negative impacts of growth on the environment, especially the water quality of the 697-mile long Cumberland River. The watershed covers 18,000 square miles and is home to almost 2 million people.

“We work to enhance water quality in the Cumberland Basin. Green building helps get us there and creates energy, water and financial savings for homeowners in the process,” said Margo Farnsworth, the Compact’s Senior Fellow.

A new Request for Proposals for the Regional Environmental Priorities Projects was announced in July. EPA Region 4 expects to award seven to 10 grants totaling approximately $500,000. The deadline to submit applications is Sept. 10.


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