Nominations Open for the 2020 Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards
The Tennessee Departments of Environment and Conservation and Transportation (TDEC and TDOT) invite nominations for the sixth annual Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards.

The Tennessee Sustainable Transportation Awards recognize outstanding initiatives to improve the efficiency, accessibility, affordability, and sustainability of transportation systems in the state, consistent with ongoing efforts to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans, provide for a strong economy, and protect and enhance our state’s natural resources. A panel of reviewers representing an array of interests will select award winners based on the following criteria:
  • Innovation – how the project utilized new thinking or creative approaches to meet a particular transportation challenge;
  • Best Practices and Replicability – how the project demonstrates a transferable solution, such that others could adopt or implement similar programs or initiatives;
  • Changes in Transportation Behavior – how a project worked to encourage or achieve changes in transportation behavior in order to make a transportation system more efficient;
  • Improvements to Public Health and Safety – how a project creates improvements to public health, well-being, or safety in a given community;
  • Equity and Access – how the project provides sustainable transportation benefits to all community members and creates accessible mobility solutions for diverse audiences.
Eligible applicants include federal, State (excluding divisions under TDEC and TDOT), and local governments; commercial, nonprofit, and industrial organizations; public and private institutions of higher education; and utilities. The entity must be located in Tennessee and the project must have been completed in the last five years. All nominees must have a minimum of three consecutive, current years of exceptional environmental compliance with TDEC. Self-nominations are encouraged.

More information, including the nomination form, can be found at Nominations are due by June 19. Questions about the awards can be directed to Alexa Voytek at or 615-532-0238.

Tennessee Green Fleets Certification Program Open for 2020
The Tennessee Green Fleets (TGF) program offers an opportunity for Tennessee fleets to receive certification for their transportation efficiency efforts. Organized by Tennessee Clean Fuels, TGF certification is based on an applicant’s vehicle data and fleet fuel use. The TGF program recognizes fleets based on actions taken to reduce petroleum consumption, lessen greenhouse gas emissions, and deploy alternative fuel vehicles. Applications for 2020 TGF certification are due July 29. For more information about the program, visit
ORNL Demonstrates Bi-directional Wireless Charging on Plug-In Hybrid UPS Truck
Researchers at ORNL recently demonstrated a 20 kW bi-directional wireless charging system installed on a UPS medium-duty, plug-in hybrid electric delivery truck. The project is the first of its kind to achieve power transfer at a 20 kW rate across an 11-inch air gap, advancing wireless charging technology for a new class of larger vehicles with higher ground clearance. The technology utilizes electromagnetic coupling coils to transfer electricity from the power grid through the charging pad and into the vehicle’s battery terminals with greater than 92% efficiency. The bi-directional design of the system allows the vehicle’s batteries to function not just for transportation but also for energy storage, which would provide energy flexibility to a fleet owner and help better manage potential onsite renewable power generation such as solar.

ORNL first demonstrated a 20 kW wireless charging system on a light-duty passenger vehicle in 2016. This light-duty system has since been scaled up to 120 kW, advancing the goal of wirelessly charging a typical consumer’s electric vehicle in about the same amount of time that it would take to refuel a car at a gas station. The technology is undergoing further testing and analysis as part of a project funded by U.S. DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office.

Tennessee School Systems Receive Funding for Diesel Bus Replacements
While U.S. EPA has implemented manufacturing and operational standards to ensure that newer diesel school bus engines are cleaner than their older model year counterparts, many older diesel school buses are still in operation and continue to emit high amounts of harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. As such, U.S. EPA recently awarded $11.5 million through its Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Program for the replacement of 580 older diesel school buses across the country. Two Tennessee school districts, Cumberland County Schools and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, were selected to receive funding and will collectively be awarded more than $250,000 to replace 14 buses with newer, cleaner models; these school bus replacements will reduce transportation emissions linked to health issues like asthma and lung disease. Click here to see a full list of 2020 DERA funding recipients. For more information about the DERA program, visit the DERA website.
Essential Workers in Greeneville Find Success with Alternative Fuels
After realizing fuel and maintenance cost savings from their 2018 conversion of three law enforcement vehicles to run on propane autogas, the Town of Greeneville has since expanded its propane fleet to include 18 bi-fuel police cars. These vehicles have utilized 18,500 gallons of propane to date, displacing 566 barrels of oil and reducing 448 short tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In times of emergencies, fuel uncertainty is a concern for fleet owners nationwide. Essential workers in Greeneville have found that having an additional fuel source helps maintain the town’s ability to provide critical services to the residents of Greeneville during such emergencies or shortages. By diversifying their fuel sources to include domestically-produced propane, the town has strengthened both its resiliency and its emergency preparedness. For more information on their project, click here. For more information on the use of alternative fuels during times of emergency, click here
Tennessee Cities Close Streets to Road Traffic to Promote Social Distancing
The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County will close streets in eight neighborhoods to encourage safe social distancing practices amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The closures will apply to thru traffic and will allow locals to walk, run, or bike outside while keeping a distance of at least six feet from their neighbors. The duration of these closures will align with Mayor Jim Cooper’s phased approach to reopening Nashville businesses, and the streets will reopen once Nashville moves from phase 2 of its plan to phase 3. To learn more about the Mayor’s reopening strategy, refer to

Similarly, City of Gatlinburg officials voted unanimously to close lanes of the City’s Parkway to aid in social distancing measures. The road will restrict vehicles to one lane in each direction and will allow pedestrians to spread out and practice safe social distancing when outdoors.

Waste Management Transitioning to CNG to Reduce Emissions
Over the last few years, Waste Management has been transitioning away from diesel-powered garbage trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG) powered trucks as part of an initiative to reduce company-wide fleet emissions 45% by 2028. Waste Management in Knoxville received its first CNG truck in 2018; today, 11 of the company’s 40 trucks in East Tennessee are now powered by CNG. Other Waste Management locations in Jackson and Antioch feature even larger CNG fleets, with 35 and 101 CNG trucks based at each location, respectively. The remainder of the fleet’s diesel-powered trucks will be replaced with CNG alternatives as they age out over the next few years. The CNG trucks emit minimal air particulates and cut greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 25% as compared to the legacy diesel trucks.

Waste Management also operates the Chestnut Ridge Landfill in Anderson County, which currently collects landfill methane gas for electricity production. The 4.8 MW of electricity produced by the landfill is enough to power approximately 2,400 homes. In the future, the captured methane gas could be used to power Waste Management’s CNG trucks in East Tennessee, a process already occurring at another company-owned landfill in Louisville, KY.

USDA Announces Funding for Ethanol and Biodiesel
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced up to $100 million in funding as part of its 2020 Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The HBIIP aims to increase the sales and use of higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel by expanding infrastructure for renewable fuels derived from U.S. agricultural products. The program is also intended to encourage a more comprehensive approach to marketing higher blends of biofuels by sharing transparent costs related to building out biofuel-related infrastructure. Eligible applicants include 1) those operating transportation fueling facilities, including fueling stations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, fleet facilities, and similar entities with capital investments; and 2) those operating fuel distribution facilities, including terminal operations, depots, midstream partners, and similarly equivalent operations.

The USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service will be conducting webinars on May 19 and May 26 to provide an overview of the HBIIP; the webinars will provide information on the application process, the online application system, and related applicant resources. Applications are due by August 13. Learn more at

TDOT Rural Planning Initiative
TDOT has announced a new planning grant for counties and municipalities in at-risk or distressed counties located outside the boundary of a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The program is intended to help rural communities identify needs and promote solutions that lead to an interconnected community with efficient modes of transportation. The initiative will guide rural municipalities in determining strategies that will support improvements in the transportation system by providing rural city governments with planning resources to achieve transportation-related community goals.

Eligible activities for funding include corridor studies; access management studies; road diet analyses; resurfacing and striping plans for local roads; transportation facility inventories; transportation feasibility studies; complete streets plans, bike/pedestrian master plans, and transportation system management and operations. TDOT will provide up to $25,000 to selected projects. The deadline to apply is June 10. For more information, contact your regional Rural Planning Organization (RPO).

Civic Innovation Challenge
U.S. DOE and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have partnered with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to launch the Civic Innovation Challenge, a national research and action competition that seeks to fund ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects that have potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities. Applicants will compete in one of two distinct tracks. The first track, Community and Mobility, seeks to develop mobility solutions that connect communities with affordable housing to areas where there is a high concentration of employment opportunity. The second track, Resilience to Natural Disasters, aims to equip communities with tools and strategies for greater preparedness and resilience to natural disasters and other emergency events. In the first stage of funding, up to 12 teams per track will be awarded up to $50,000 each; a second stage of funding will offer awards to up to three teams per track of up to $1 million each. Full applications are to be submitted to NSF by July 1. To learn more about the competition, click here. For more information on eligibility and how to build a team, click here.
National Bike Challenge 2020
Love to Ride USA is holding its annual National Bike Challenge, which runs from now through September. The Challenge promotes biking as both an outdoor exercise as well as an environmentally-friendly transportation alternative to motor vehicles. Throughout the Challenge, individuals and groups can compete across various leaderboards, achieve personal cycling goals, and promote the use of biking as a mode of transportation within communities. Since the event’s inception, over 200,000 National Bike Challenge participants have ridden over 150 million miles, resulting in over 32 million pounds of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. Click here to create a profile and to learn more about the 2020 Challenge.
TennSMART Virtual Meeting on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
On May 21 from 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM Central, TennSMART will hold a virtual member meeting on connected and autonomous vehicle technologies:
  • Kristin White, Executive Director of Connected and Automated Vehicles for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will provide an update on the State-led Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Advisory Council and how such a group could be formed by TennSMART members to advance these technologies in Tennessee.
  • Dr. Alexander Hainen, Assistant Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alabama, will give a presentation on his research related to connected vehicle technologies and vehicle trajectory control systems.
Click here to register for the event.
Webinar: Forecasting Zero Emission Vehicle Fleet Scenarios and Emissions Implications
The Transportation Research Board (TRB) will hold a webinar on June 30 from 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM Eastern on “Forecasting Zero Emission Vehicle Fleet Scenarios and Emissions Implications.” The webinar aims to address how future Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) fleet scenarios will affect emissions of criteria pollutants, mobile source air toxics, and greenhouse gases. Presenters will discuss research and analysis on U.S. ZEV adoption and will provide insights on how State Departments of Transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations can design and execute programs and policies to advance the adoption of ZEVs by both public and local fleet operators. Click here to register.
American Trails Launches Advancing Trails Webinar Series
American Trails recently announced an Advancing Trails Webinar Series, which is focused on all aspects of walking/biking trail and greenway management. Webinars will provide key information related to active transportation, outdoor recreation, public health connections, wayfinding, data analytics, and more. The sessions are currently scheduled from now through August 2020. Click here to view the full list of webinars and to register.
UT, NREL Study Estimates Comprehensive Fuel Savings from Fuel Economy Improvements
A team from the University of Tennessee and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently concluded a comprehensive study of U.S. light duty vehicle fuel savings attributed to vehicle fuel economy improvements between 1975 and 2018. The researchers found that these improvements have contributed to a fuel savings of approximately two trillion gallons of gasoline nationwide, with roughly one-fifth of the savings attributed to gasoline price increases over the period and four-fifths to improved fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards. The report also states that, while light-duty vehicle travel has increased during the period by 134%, associated fuel use has increased by only 37%. This reduction in per-vehicle fuel use as newer, more efficient vehicles were added to the vehicle population and older, less efficient vehicles were retired is estimated to have saved the U.S. transportation sector more than $4.9 trillion in fuel costs and to have reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 17 billion tons.
Visit the TDEC Office of Energy Programs Website at
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