Gatlinburg is not only one of the best places to visit, but is also undergoing many changes in order to reduce the effects that the city and its many visitors have on the environment. The Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce began a Green Initiative Program in 2008 to encourage business members to become Eco-friendly and preserve the natural beauty and wildlife around them.
Gatlinburg has taking small steps the last 30 years to reduce their impact on the environment while blending in with the natural beauty that surrounds the city. Some of the recent changes that have been made include adding recycling containers for businesses and residents, changing the lighting at the Conference Center and Convention Center to compact florescent light, introducing a new fuel conservation policy for city vehicles, and joining with Sevierville and Pigeon Forge to open a new composting center to serve all three communities.
The Green Initiative Program provides certificates for Chamber of Commerce members that sign up and complete the necessary requirements to be an environmentally friendly business. The business must evaluate their operations, set specific goals and make changes to reduce their environmental impact. Currently, 25 percent of Chamber members participate in the program. For a full list of green businesses click here.
In the past year, more programs have been launched to improve their community and educate visitors on how to reduce their carbon footprint. On June 16th, Great Smoky Mountains National Park launched a “Do Your Part” initiative to educate visitors on how to lower their impact on the environment while in the park and at home. In late May, the first hotel seeking green certification opened its doors in downtown Gatlinburg. The Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg has all the amenities of a luxury hotel and is on track to become the LEED certified from the U.S Green Building council. The Nantahala Outdoor Center announced it will open up a new location in Gatlinburg that will also seek the LEED certification.
This year’s Winter’s Magic Kickoff and Chili Cook Off will feature custom designed LED energy efficient lighting. The city of Gatlinburg has spent the last 3 years converting the winter lighting from 85 watt incandescent light bulbs to quarter-watt LED lights. Other future plans include converting all of the city’s traffic signal lights to LED bulbs, trying to make all special events zero waste events, developing more green events and meetings, and for 75 percent of Chamber of Commerce members to be certified as green by the end of 2009.
Gatlinburg is making tremendous strides to make their community green and educate visitors on ways to reduce their environmental impact. By being environmentally conscious, Gatlinburg will encourage visitors to take eco-friendly steps to help reduce harmful effects on the environment and keep the area beautiful for future generations!