Newly Expanded Lookout Mountain Attraction Receives Top State Award for Building Green
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee will honor Ruby Falls on Thursday, August 1 in Franklin, TN with a Governor’s Environmental Steward Award (GESA). The Chattanooga, TN natural attraction will receive the distinguished GESA Building Green accolade for significant sustainability initiatives incorporated into the 2018 Ruby Falls expansion, designed by PGAV Destinations, and the positive impact the project has on the state’s natural resources and communities.
The GESA program recognizes “exceptional voluntary actions” that improve or protect the environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation. The repurposing of the National Register of Historic Places 1929 Cavern Castle, 13,000-sf building addition and 4,000-sf outdoor venue addition was designed and constructed with health, well-being, energy efficiency, water conservation, and community access in mind. Welcoming more than half a million guests annually as it nears its second century of operation, Green Globe Certified Ruby Falls undertook more than 40 LEED initiatives in this ecologically-sensitive project on a technically challenging site. Confirmation of LEED certification is expected in the coming weeks.
During the project, more than 22,716 tons of rock were repurposed, more than 75% of all construction waste was recycled, and over 20% of materials were manufactured within a 500-mile radius. “The design and construction of this spectacular addition incorporated sustainable features from the very beginning, with the goals of reducing energy use, providing comfortable environments for guests and staff, and optimizing building performance for years to come,” said Diane Lochner, PGAV Destinations vice president and project lead. “We are thrilled for the Ruby Falls team to receive this well-deserved award, both for innovating their own property as well as serving as an exemplary sustainability model for the state of Tennessee.”
“Our entire team resolved to become more environmentally sustainable and that’s a journey that never ends. We continue to stretch and grow our endeavors as we learn more about sustainability practices, what impacts the environment and as technology develops,” said Ruby Falls President, Hugh Morrow. “This recognition demonstrates that continuous sustainability advancements are possible, for small businesses, large enterprises, and even on a personal level in your own home. We hope Ruby Falls’ journey towards sustainability inspires others to pursue these opportunities.”
The project was carefully implemented to protect natural habitats and maximize the amount of open green space. The expansion’s thermally efficient envelope, low-E windows, LED lighting and controls, efficient HVAC system, building automation system, storm water management strategies, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, and rainwater collection and filtration system for landscape irrigation all contribute to mitigating the common environmental impact of projects of a similar scope.
About Ruby Falls
Celebrating 89 years of inspiring extraordinary connections to nature through wonder and adventure, Ruby Falls is home to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States. Over half a million guests annually visit the thundering waterfall, deep within Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn. Guided tours of the cavern and ancient geological formations, award-winning special events, and sweeping views of the magnificent Cumberland Plateau from historic Lookout Mountain Tower and Blue Heron Overlook foster a life-long love of nature and exploration. Committed to cave conservation and environmental sustainability, Ruby Falls is the first attraction in the United States to earn Green Globe Certification, the highest standard for travel and tourism sustainability worldwide. www.RubyFalls.com