Beyond Going Green: Why Franklin Is a Sustainability-Focused Destination

We can all do our part to ensure future generations are set up for success when it comes to preserving natural resources and taking care of the environment. I’ve lived in Franklin my whole life. While the stunning historic streets and the myriad unique things to do (and eat) will always make me a happy resident, it’s the achievements and continued advancements in sustainability that make me most proud. 

While our town may perfectly preserve the past, explore the ways Franklin and Williamson County are looking toward the health of our future. 

Franklin Is a LEED-Certified City

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely-used green building rating program in the world, and in 2016, LEED for Cities was launched. The designation is measured by 14 key metrics like energy, water, waste, transportation, education, health, safety, prosperity, and equitability – and guess who became the first city in the state to earn the prestigious award?! 

Franklin received a LEED Silver Certification in 2018, becoming the first in Tennessee to do so, thanks to excellence in things like human experience and air quality. To date, only 120 cities have achieved a LEED certification nationwide. 

Our Parks and Parkways Offer More than Meets the Eye

The beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway runs through portions of Williamson County, and while it’s a great option for a windows-down drive, you may not realize the bigger impact the federally-protected land has. With this protection, some 51,000 acres are preserved from development, which is, of course, a win for the environment. 

Along the Trace (at mile marker 437.2) stands Timberland Park, and while its hiking trails and stunning views are a natural draw, the destination has a remarkable sustainability story. The 70-acre park is completely off the grid, leveraging solar power for electricity, propane for the fireplace, and even water brought in for restrooms. Plus, the park has an Audubon-approved butterfly garden also onsite that promotes pollination (and it’s pretty). 

Local Businesses and Organizations Are Doing Their Part

Many local businesses are also taking a cue from the county and ramping up their own sustainability efforts. The recently-opened FirstBank Amphitheater is a prime example. What was once a literal hole full of garbage is now a reclaimed world-class outdoor concert venue doing its part to steer as far away from its roots as possible. The concessions are entirely plastic-free, and everything onsite is compostable or recyclable. When you are enjoying your favorite artist on stage, you can know you are also doing your part to have little impact on the environment around you. The efforts rightfully earned FirstBank Amphitheater the Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship award. 

In keeping with the spirit of Tennessee, even our local whiskey distillery is committed to the town’s sustainability efforts. The leftover mash from whiskey production at Leiper’s Fork Distillery is used to either make cleaners and sanitizers or is shared with neighboring farms as feed for their cattle. (Is our milk spiked? Maybe.)

Tennessee is a landlocked state, so protecting our few and far-between waterways is of utmost importance. The Harpeth Conservancy is dedicated to just that—ensuring Tennessee rivers have clean water and healthy ecosystems. Residents and visitors can support the organization through donations and special events, like the successful Dinner in the Creek benefit that gathered 62 guests for a meal literally hosted in the stream of a nearby creek. 

We’re Bikeable, Walkable, and Canoe-able:

In an effort to reduce pollution from vehicles, the city of Franklin adopted a greenway and open space master plan with an emphasis on creating safe roadway connections and preserving open spaces and greenways. Since then, Franklin has received an honorable mention from the Walk Friendly Communities, installed bike bollards and racks throughout downtown Franklin, and completed a $212,000 initiative to establish safe routes to schools. 

As an added bonus, there are several (very clean) river access points available to launch canoes and kayaks or enjoy fishing and swimming. 

Whether you call Williamson County home or you’re just passing through, remember to do your part in helping us go green!