City Of Gatlinburg Sustainable Initiatives And Programs

Gatlinburg is the Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it’s our responsibility to support park goals and preserve the natural beauty and wildlife for future generations to enjoy.

Below are some of the community efforts that have taken place in our city.



1979 – The Sparkle Days program begins, dedicating one week each to spring cleaning and collection of commercial and residential refuse.

1979 – Gatlinburg earns its initial Tree City USA designation.

1981 – Gatlinburg establishes a Trout-Rearing Facility and Stocking Program.

1991 – Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville cooperatively build and operate a composting plant, recovering compostable material and reducing the local waste stream by 65%.

1991 – Gatlinburg launches a flower and tree beautification program throughout town.

1993 – Gatlinburg begins collecting waste oil and fluids for use in heating Service Center building, approximately 500 gallons per year.

1998 – Gatlinburg embarks on downtown revitalization, the initial phase of its Undergrounding and Streetscape Project, including construction of two city parking garages to anchor the addition of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

1999 – Gatlinburg partners with the Chamber of Commerce, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Gatlinburg Gateway Foundation to form the Gatlinburg Partnership Council.

1999 – Gatlinburg passes an ordinance to require animal-resistant trash containers and dumpsters throughout town.

2000 – Gatlinburg tests hybrid trolleys and vehicles.

2000 – Gatlinburg becomes a Green Power Switch partner.

2003 – Gatlinburg purchases three CNG police cruisers.

2006 – Gatlinburg launches a three-year conversion of its Winter Magic lighting program to LED bulbs.

2007 – Gatlinburg completes Phase V of its Undergrounding and Streetscape Project, investing more than $15.5 million.

2008 – Gatlinburg completes the conversion of its Winter Magic lights program to all-LED bulbs, resulting in an 85% reduction in electricity costs for the four-month program.

2008 – Gatlinburg appoints Larry Henderson to spearhead Gatlinburg’s Green Initiatives Program.

2008 – Gatlinburg adopts an Architectural Guidelines document and poster to illustrate favored principles of responsible building design for the City. Builders and contractors interested in developing construction projects within the City of Gatlinburg can now review and study the Planning Department’s Architectural Guidelines Matrix.

2008 – Gatlinburg implements improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, resulting in increased efficiency in treatment operations and a 22% reduction in electrical consumption at the facility during FY 2007-08.

2008 – Gatlinburg replaces metal halide fixtures and bulbs in both the Aquarium and McMahan parking garage complexes with T8 Fluorescent bulbs.

2008 – Gatlinburg establishes an All Day Trolley Pass program, allowing unlimited use of the mass-transit system for $2 per day.

2008 – Gatlinburg places containers for recyclables in all employee lunchrooms.

2008 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center begins an aggressive employee training program in energy management, converting public space lighting to compact fluorescent bulbs.

2008 – Gatlinburg introduces a Fuel Conservation Policy for all city vehicles, establishing a Last One Out directive.

2008 – Gatlinburg adopts Hillsides and Ridges regulations, as well as Tree Protection Ordinance.

2009 – Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville open a new, state-of-the-art composting facility, which reduces the waste stream by 75%.

2009 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center reduces electricity usage for FY 2008-09 by 1.3 million kilowatts (30%) and demand by 10% through a new energy management program.

2009 – Gatlinburg launches a program to replace all incandescent lighting and less-efficient fluorescent lighting with T8 fluorescent bulbs and ballasts.

2009 – Gatlinburg applies for a Tennessee Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant.

2010 – Gatlinburg institutes an in-house fluorescent bulb recycling program.

2010 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center establishes an experimental “green” chemical mixing station.

2011 – Gatlinburg enrolls in TVA’s Energy Right Solutions program.

2011 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center and Ranmore Pumping Station are enrolled in TVA’s Demand Response Program through EnerNoc.

2011 – Gatlinburg begins purchasing green chemicals for all departments.

2011 – Gatlinburg converts all traffic signals to LED and improves all lighting in public buildings with energy-efficient ballasts and bulbs.

2012 – Gatlinburg completes Phase VI of its under-grounding utilities project, from the Convention Center to Park boundaries.

2012 – Gatlinburg partners with Goodwill Industries to establish a comprehensive recycling collection center at 1855 East Parkway.

2012 – Gatlinburg establishes a Free Parkway Trolley as a permanent program to promote summertime use of public transportation downtown.

2013 – Mass Transit implements a GPS tracking system, allowing visitors to track trolleys in real time and reducing carbon emissions through fleet management.

2013 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center receives an East Tennessee Clean Energy Grant and retrofits 240 light fixtures, thereby reducing energy consumption in the Exhibit Hall by 54%.

2013 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center is awarded “Green Meeting” certification by Convention South.

2014 – The GPS tracking system is expanded to include the Sanitation Department.

2014 – Mass Transit receives a CMAC Grant to purchase a CNG (compressed natural gas) Trolley.

2014 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center installs energy-efficient, electric hand dryers in all restrooms and replaces all water fountains with more efficient models with bottle filling stations to help reduce landfill waste.

2014 – The Gatlinburg Convention Center is recognized as a “Go Green Achiever” by The Greater Knoxville Business Journal.

2015 – Convention Center is awarded “Gatlinburg Goes Green Newcomer Award” by the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce.

2015 – Gatlinburg is awarded a TDEC grant for lighting retro-fits at the Community Center and Gatlinburg Post Office.

2015 – The GPS tracking system is expanded to include the Utilities Department.

2016 – The GPS tracking system is expanded to include the Street Department.

2016 – Gatlinburg is awarded “Excellence in Green Leadership” by the Tennessee Municipal League.

2017 – Gatlinburg is in the process of changing all street light from high-pressure sodium to LED.

2018 – Gatlinburg added 22 more of the solar big belly waste receptacles with a total of 26 on the parkway. This has helped the sanitation department reduce the number of collections.


Gatlinburg Hilton Garden Inn Receives Silver LEED Certification

The Gatlinburg Hilton Garden Inn is the first new hotel in Tennessee to be awarded silver level certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Built in 2009, the Hilton Garden Inn recently completed the certification process and confirmed that the hotel satisfies criteria for sustainable site development, water conservation, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environment quality.

“With the Smoky Mountain National Park in our backyard, it is a natural fit for Gatlinburg to be an innovator in promoting efficient and sustainable green development, and we encourage others to follow our lead,” said Logan Coykendall, President of Hospitality Management Solutions.

LEED is a third-party certification program, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED promotes sustainable building and development practices through a suite of rating systems that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance. The LEED rating systems are developed through an open, consensus-based process led by LEED committees, diverse groups of volunteers representing a cross-section of the building and construction industry.

The Hilton Garden Inn has reduced water usage by 30 percent and showed an energy reduction of nearly 20 percent to achieve Silver level LEED certification. The property also implemented a recycling program for both guest and owner participation. The contractor was an integral part of the team establishing a waste management plan designed and implemented to divert more than 75% of the construction waste from the landfills. Additionally, products used in the construction of the Hilton Garden Inn are regionally extracted and manufactured, consisting of 20% recycled content.

The Gatlinburg Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Gatlinburg opened in summer of 2009 and offers 118 guest rooms and luxurious suites. The property is located on River Road with access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the main downtown parkway and walking district. The hotel is 100% nonsmoking and offers the Garden Sleep System bed, complimentary WiFi, a 24-hour business center, a 24-hour Pavilion Pantry convenience market, a workout facility, meeting spaces and an indoor pool.


Get Plugged In At Johnson Family Of Restaurants Locations!

Wondering about those space-age boxes mounted in front of The Alamo Steakhouse, Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que, Mama’s Farmhouse and Big Daddy’s Pizzeria? These are the first businesses in Sevier County to host electric vehicle (EV) charging stations! The Johnson Family of Restaurants is proud and excited to provide this service at its seven locations, the first businesses in the county (and some of the first businesses in East Tennessee) to receive the stations through the EV Project. The stations will enable customers with electric vehicles to top off the charge on their vehicles while dining at one of the locations. Though some EV Program providers will charge users for the electricity, the Johnson Family of Restaurants is offering this service free-of-charge to its customers.

The Johnson Family of Restaurants believes in electric and hybrid-electric vehicles and their potential ability to improve air quality in the Great Smoky Mountains (and beyond), reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy. We’re proud to serve customers choosing alternative-fuel vehicles, happy to help them out and simply thrilled to be a part of this great project!

Wondering where to get a bite and charge up? Here are our locations:

  • Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que 714 River Road Gatlinburg (865) 436-2400
  • Bennett’s Pit-Bar-B-Que 2910 Parkway, Pigeon Forge (865) 429-2200
  • Alamo Steakhouse 705 East Parkway, Gatlinburg (865) 436-9998
  • Alamo Steakhouse 3050 Parkway, Pigeon Forge (865) 908-9998
  • Mama’s Farmhouse 208 Pickel Street, Pigeon Forge (865) 908-4646
  • Big Daddy’s Pizzeria 1820 Parkway, Sevierville, TN (865) 908-1123
  • Big Daddy’s Pizzeria 3053 Parkway, Pigeon Forge (865) 429-7171


Future Prospects

Always forward-thinking, the Gatlinburg Convention Center is developing a Green Meetings program.

Sevier Solid Waste, Inc. is evaluating further bio-energy diversion technology for the region.

Gatlinburg is studying the feasibility of the construction of a solar farm on the Convention Center roof, and an electric co-generation system fueled by methane gas to produce enough electricity to power the wastewater treatment plant.