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Michael Walton, Green Spaces executive director, talks about Green Spaces Empower Chattanooga program Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, at Green Spaces in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn.

A Chattanooga nonprofit that developed a community-wide "Green Light" program for energy efficiency in buildings six years ago has added a similar "Green Leader" certification for professionals to practice sustainable programs in their organizations.

Green Spaces, aided by funding from the Footprint Foundation, developed an eight-week program to teach about environmental stewardship in Chattanooga, which seven EPB employees completed Friday in a pilot test.

"At Green Spaces, we spend a lot of time thinking about what a sustainable Chattanooga looks like with our environment, economy and society," said Michael Walton, executive director for Green Spaces. "When we think about that shining future city on the river, a core part of that are the businesses and institutions in Chattanooga that are part of that sustainability story. To achieve what we have has taken bold and courageous leadership."

The new Green Leaders program is designed to help teach those lessons and inspire a continued environmental focus for the community's future, Walton said.

some text Kelley Cureton is named the new program director for The Chattanooga sustainability group green|spaces green|light program. (Photo from Green Spaces)

The program developed by Kelley Cureton at Green Spaces is the first location-based professional sustainability credential of its kind in the country.

The seven graduates from the pilot course who all work at EPB said the Green Leaders program helped them learn more about Chattanooga and the challenges and opportunities of building a more sustainable business and community.

"It was really eye opening to me and makes you realize a lot of little and lot of important things that you can do to address our environmental challenges and help with the threat of global climate change," said Ann Woods, who works in EPB's technical operations.

The course included online instruction, site visits and class discussions to help educate the managers on ways to promote sustainability. Elizabeth Hammitt, director of environmental stewardship and community at EPB, said the Green Leaders program offered important lessons for EPB's energy efficiency managers in leadership and ways to reuse materials, use local sourcing and limit energy consumption, waste and pollution in all its forms.

"As Chattanoogans, we know our community's current economic success is founded in the tremendous environmental progress we've made since the 1960s, and we must continue and build on those efforts," she said.

Based on the pilot program with the EPB employees, the Green Leader certification will next be offered online through UTC's Center for Professional Education, starting in December.

"The local approach to the Green Leader program, focusing on the impact that can be made in our immediate area, is unique and exciting," said John Freeze, director of the UTC Center f0r Professional Education. "Being a part of the delivery of the program gives us great comfort in knowing that we are a part of making our community a better place to live, work, and play for generations to come."

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

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