CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. The second annual Building Recognition in Chattanooga (BRIC) Awards were held recently where Ruby Falls President Hugh Morrow was named Sustainability Professional of the Year. This award was a co-sponsored effort by green|spaces, The American Institute of Architects of Chattanooga and the Sustainability Professionals of Greater Chattanooga (SPGC). This BRIC Award was designed to recognize excellence, achievement and advancement in sustainable practices from an individual who has excelled in this profession and is reflective of SPGC’s mission: promoting sustainability through the development of sustainability professionals.
Ruby Falls has continued to live by sustainable practices daily, focused on four main environmental initiatives: the production of renewable energy, recycling and waste reduction, land use planning and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The solar panels at Ruby Falls produce 16,000 watts of renewable energy, and the panels combined with computer-controlled, high-efficiency lighting have resulted in reduction of more than 24% in power consumption.
The operational and building programs of Ruby Falls continue to be designed to reduce the attraction’s environmental footprint. “Being a natural attraction, we understand the significance of sustaining the land,” said Morrow. “Protecting the unique geological formations and waterfall that are a part of our caverns is extremely important to us. We design our tours in a way that will have minimal impact on these natural wonders.”
Ruby Falls has received other recent notable sustainability awards, as well as continual recertification by Green Globe International, Inc. after being the first U.S. attraction in 2010 to receive the distinction. In 2016, Ruby Falls was awarded the Green Globe Sustainable Leadership Award, which recognized a travel and tourism business on an international level that demonstrated an enduring commitment to preserving natural assets, the ability to maintain a thriving business by managing thousands of guests and displayed ways they connect and care for the local community. Ruby Falls was the first U.S. business to receive this award.
Ruby Falls is certified by green|light, a third party corporate sustainability certification for Chattanooga businesses. This program from green|spaces helps businesses in areas such as employee attraction, cost savings and environmental stewardship. A quote from their website by Fortune magazine stated, “As millennials now make up one third of the American workforce, 88 percent look for employers with social responsibility values that reflect their own.”
Since 2007, green|spaces has been promoting sustainable living, working and building through education and innovative projects. Current programs include Empower Chattanooga, helping low-income residents identify ways to reduce utility bills, NextGen Homes, net zero energy homes built for conventional home prices and green|light, a third-party green business certification. More can be found at www.greenspaceschattanooga.org.
Ruby Falls is committed to the reduction of its environmental footprint while providing a better experience for visitors. The goal is to lead and educate others in the local community about the importance of sustainability and protecting the environment. Ruby Falls is home to America’s tallest underground waterfall and deepest cave accessible to the public. It features a 145-foot waterfall located 1,120 feet beneath the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Go to www.rubyfalls.com for more.