Local-based businesses awarded for environmental efforts

Local-based businesses awarded for environmental efforts

June 26th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Business Around the Region

Christina Siebold of the Chattanooga Metro Airport Authority

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Two businesses with ties to Hamilton County earned kudos from Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday for efforts to protect and conserve the environment.

The Chattanooga Airport Authority and Volkswagen both were honored with Governor's Environmental Stewardship Awards Tuesday at Lipscomb University in Nashville.

The airport authority was awarded for excellence in sustainable performances for its Green Initiative.

Volkswagen received a pursuit of excellence recognition for continued efforts to protect the environment.

Christina Siebold, director of marketing and communications for the authority, said the airport started out by changing light bulbs, but now it has a expansive solar power farm that produces 85 percent of its energy.

"Sustainablility has been a priority for our airport for quite some time now," Siebold said. "Overall, receiving this recognition is a honor to us, but it's also a nod to our whole community."

This was Volkswagen's second award for environmental efforts.

Frank Fischer, CEO and Chairman of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said the company tries to be environmentally conscious in all aspects of its facilities.

"Our Think Blue program includes everything from protecting our wetland area so that wildlife can thrive, to the extensive use of our adaptive control welding robots in our body shop that limit the energy used to build our cars," Fischer said.

Haslam said the automaker earned its recent award for continuing to push for environmentally friendly policies.

"When we talk with them on their current plant management or when we talk with them about the potential expansion, they don't just talk about [environment], they really do feel like that's one of their primary responsibilities," Haslam said.

The state this year created the "pursuit of excellence" category for previous winners of awards, said David Owenby, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau's chief of staff.

"When the judges stacked up all those prior winners and held them to an even higher standard of what have you done for excellence lately, there were two who stood a little higher than all the rest," Owenby told attendees.

One was Volkswagen. The other was the annual Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, he said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.

Staff Writer Andy Shear contributed to this report.