2024 Sustain Charlotte Awards Winners

2024 Sustain Charlotte Awards Winners

2024 Sustain Charlotte Awards 2

At the 2024 Sustain Charlotte Awards, presented by Honeywell, we recognized 56 nominees in eight categories.

Congratulations to our 2024 winners!

Inspiring Individual: Elaine Powell

The winner of this year’s Inspiring Individual Award is serving in her third term as a Mecklenburg County Commissioner. As chair of the Environmental Stewardship Committee, Elaine vigorously works to preserve open and green space for the county. Under her leadership, Mecklenburg County has acquired over 1,553 acres of protected, green and open space.

For the past 34 years, Elaine has been actively serving our community. She is a passionate leader who brings people together and is persistent in her drive to create lasting change. 

Elaine educates all who come into her orbit on environmental protection and has led the way in embracing justice through equal protection and enforcement of environmental laws and regulations including using the county’s racial equity toolkit in environmental decision-making. 

She has promoted concepts of how a healthy natural ecosystem and environmental protection will attract investment and prevent future unnecessary spending to mitigate negative effects of ignoring stewardship of our natural environment.

Elaine’s dogged commitment to increasing equitable access to and improving the overall quality of our greenways system has been a tenant of her time both as a Mecklenburg County resident and commissioner. 

Inspiring Building Project: NOVEL University Place by Crescent Communities

The winner of this year’s Inspiring Building Project Award was built on many hours of planning, design, construction, and ongoing operation that directly promotes both environmental and social sustainability. It has been the catalyst in developing a vibrant and walkable town center for University City and was created with extensive collaboration with community stakeholders. 

It is one of the few local developments to include solar power. A digital meter in the leasing office displays, educates and inspires visitors to understand the energy being produced and reminds them to act responsibly.

Filtration and ventilation improve indoor air quality with low-VOC insulation, adhesives and paints reducing pollutants. Using native plants, they reduce harmful fertilizer use and, using electric heat pumps, they provide heating and cooling without fossil fuels.

Located on a previously developed site, this is home to 308 residences across 15 acres, walkable to many community resources, including restaurants, fitness, grocery, banking, a greenway and LYNX Blue Line stop.

The residents enjoy valet trash and recycling, which are picked up doorside on a regular basis and recycled through the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County programs.

They use land efficiently, building up rather than out and create and enhance a vibrant mix of residential, retail and office uses. The project increases the range of housing options available – size, type, affordability, location – and utilizes low-impact or regenerative design techniques and materials. 

This project is playing a critical role in developing a vibrant town center for the greater University City. With certifications from the National Green Building Council and Fitwel, this building project supports the health and wellbeing of both the residents and the greater community. 

Congratulations to NOVEL University Place by Crescent Communities for winning this year’s Inspiring Building Project Award!

Inspiring Small Business: Mindful & Good

The winner of our Inspiring Small Business Award is a design studio dedicated to creating impactful brands that ignite positive change. From start-ups to Fortune 500s, they design compelling brands that benefit the community through environmentally friendly practices, social responsibility, education, partnerships, and economic growth. 

They promote diverse teams, advocate for equitable representation, support underrepresented suppliers, and collaborate with clients valuing racial equity.

They aid clients with sustainability strategies, local ingredient sourcing, carbon reduction, packaging minimization, food waste reduction, recyclability, compostability, circular design, economic growth, and sustainable practices integration.

They reduce air pollution with eco-materials, sustainable practices, and cleaner production, benefiting the community by fighting climate change and preserving resources and are 100% carbon neutral, offsetting emissions and buying local renewable energy from wind, solar, and biomass via NC GreenPower.

They operate from a LEED-certified, Energy Star rated live/work space, a Southeastern first. Located on public transit lines in a walkable community with greenway access, they advocate smart land use in their adaptive reuse projects.

They minimize waste through creative strategies like minimal packaging, circular design, upcycling, and composting with Crown Town Compost. All of their materials are recycled or reused, including paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, and ink toner cartridges.

They advance climate change action by designing resilient infrastructure, promoting renewable energy, advocating for sustainable practices, and educating communities on mitigation strategies.

Their expertise in high-quality sustainable design, coupled with a commitment to social impact, has led to innovative solutions that prioritize people, planet, profit, and culture.

With a focus on natural, organic, and purpose-driven enterprises, they've consistently demonstrated their ability to drive meaningful change. 

Since their inception in 2000, they have been at the forefront of sustainable design, advocating for a quadruple bottom line approach and exemplifying the belief that business should be a force for good. Their dedication to sustainability, transparency, and accountability sets them apart as leaders in the global movement towards a more sustainable future.

Congratulations to Mindful & Good for being our Inspiring Small Business Award winner!

Inspiring Large Business: Stantec

The winner of this year’s Large Business Award is a global leader in sustainable design, architecture, engineering, planning, digital technology, project management, and scientific consulting services. Their SocioEco-Equity Network promotes equity in the built environment to improve quality of life in communities historically subjected to environmental justice discriminatory practices.

Using technology and planning, they help communities address resource security and conservation, wellness, accessibility, mobility, equity, and congestion.

To fulfill their promise to design with community in mind, their project work considers issues such as climate change and social justice. They help their clients see their projects through these lenses and bring these ideas to life, creating positive environmental and social value for the world.

They select vendors, subcontractors, subconsultants, and partners who practice sustainable behaviors. They influence their supply chain with their Partner Code of Business Conduct, which details their values, standards, and expectations.

They are focused on operational carbon reduction and have measured, analyzed, managed, and reduced their carbon footprint since 2010. They externally verify their emissions and have near-term emission reduction targets.

They provide clients greenhouse gas reporting and verification services, advise on net zero strategies, and regularly incorporate energy efficiency measures into their designs.

They protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.

In 2022, they joined the Coalition for Reimagined Mobility—the only member from the architectural and engineering industry—to advance equitable, sustainable global transportation. 

They consistently conserve resources in their operations and project work to produce direct environmental benefits, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs.

They are designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships, always designing with community in mind. 

Congratulations to Stantec, winner of this year’s Inspiring Large Business Award!

Inspiring Government Agency: Long Range Planning Division of the Charlotte Planning, Design and Development Department

The winner of this year’s Inspiring Government Agency Award is a dynamic group of professionals that ensures the public are co-creators in developing the 2040 Policy Map, a land use tool informing sustainable land use. 

The group’s staff developed the Equitable Growth Framework Manual that features a methodology for measuring access to housing, jobs, and necessities, environmental justice, and promoting equity. 

They inspire the community to remain involved in the 2040 Policy Map process by consistently engaging them through in-person and virtual interactions. This also encourages the community to learn about other city initiatives.

This group is diverse in age, gender, race, ethnicity, and educational background, enabling them to connect to the community and authentically engage them in planning processes and projects that contribute to the betterment of the city. Equally important is how they build trust in the community. They ensure members of the public are heard and see their ideas reflected in the strategies. 

They promote smart land use and enhance sustainable transportation choices by including safe multi-modal transportation options the focus of their work.

They support a healthy natural environment by promoting the 2040 Comprehensive Plan and Policy Map as tools for policy guidance on ways to protect the city’s parks, open spaces, and environmentally sensitive areas.

They understand that sustainability and smart growth cannot be achieved without collaboration from all stakeholders, effective and equitable land use policies, and laws. This perspective enables them to champion inclusive practices that allow everyone to have a seat at the table to effect positive change in the Crown City. 

Congratulations to this year’s Inspiring Government Agency Award, the Long Range Planning Division of the Charlotte Planning, Design and Development Department!

Inspiring Nonprofit: Queens University of Charlotte

This year’s Inspiring Nonprofit Award winner is a not-for-profit higher education institution. Through their comprehensive sustainability plan, they endeavor to change their own institutional behaviors, educate and empower their constituents and directly impact the community with resources. 

They built their first comprehensive sustainability plan pre-Covid and began to execute on that plan in 2023-2024 academic year. 

Diversity, engagement and inclusion is a major pillar of their strategic framework and they believe it is essential in higher education in order to provide all people access to education and enhance economic mobility opportunities. 

They have partnered with the Mayor's Racial Equity Initiative through their Center for Digital Equity to ensure Mecklenburg is the most digitally equitable community

To consume less fossil fuels, they have been making significant investments in replacing older, inefficient HVAC systems, replacing old lighting with LED lights and adding building automation systems. They have added a solar panel farm on the roof of one of their buildings. 

Their campus dining services have programs to encourage reduced food waste and they collect the majority of rainwater from their roofs and reuse that water for irrigation. They collect used cooking oil from our kitchen to convert to biodiesel to use in their campus tractors

They believe that sustainability must be addressed in a comprehensive way, engaging our community in efforts to change not only our behaviors, but also our culture while empowering all people through education, awareness, opportunity and action. 

They believe sustainability is a people-driven effort centered on improving the way we all interact with the earth's resources and support systems and we must have social justice and equity in order to provide an enduring future for all. 

Congratulations to this year’s Inspiring Nonprofit Award winner, Queens University of Charlotte!

Inspiring Young Leader: Shruti Agrawal

This year’s Young Sustainability Leader is a dedicated environmentalist with a passion for improving communities. She has been working toward mitigating the effects of climate change since 2019 when, as an eighth grader, she founded her nonprofit organization, New Normal X, which works to inspire young people to make sustainability-minded choices. 

By involving a diverse group of volunteers, she ensures that her team of officers is diverse and that the content is tailored to all types of audiences so that everyone feels safe and included. 

She works with students and professionals from across the state to inspire change through all age groups. She makes amazing social media content and involves students in challenges that promote eco-friendly habits.

She is always ready to address new issues however she can. She specifically wants to increase outreach and help students understand that the climate crisis will very much affect the future generations if we don't act now.

She participates in a variety of eco-friendly challenges and encourages others to do the 

Improving air quality is one of her goals. By encouraging students to combine their trips into one or walk to school or other destinations instead of taking a car, she encourages them to create a lifestyle that includes sustainable transportation choices.

She is always looking for ways to reduce each individual’s carbon emissions, whether it be through raising awareness on social media, making her website more accessible or running holiday themed eco-friendly challenges.

She has worked with city officials and various nonprofits throughout Charlotte, set up a website, and has been interning at CleanAIRENC since 2023 summer. She also interned at the City of Charlotte's sustainability department last summer as part of the Mayor's Youth Employment Program to improve Charlotte's Strategic Energy Action Plan dashboard by comparing it to other cities' plans. 

While she is only 17, she has done wonders in the sustainability field and influenced so many. She regularly holds team meetings to allow her officers to participate in what they do best, whether it be music, nature, research series, social media, partnerships, outreach, or program management.

Congratulations to this year’s Young Sustainability Leader, Shruti Agrawal!

Recycling Excellence: PNC Music Pavilion

This year’s Recycling Excellence Award presented by Mecklenburg County Solid Waste winner focuses on fostering a culture of environmental responsibility within the company and the people they serve. 

They actively promote sustainable practices by incentivizing employees to embrace eco-friendly alternatives, have expanded their zero-waste initiatives, and are continuously seeking avenues to enhance their social consciousness and sustainable practices. 

They remain dedicated to extending their impact beyond the boundaries of their venue and throughout the wider community.

They focus their waste diversion efforts primarily through the materials they source and how they dispose of them. In 2018, they launched their Zero-Waste program. Through this program, they diverted 90.5% of their organization’s waste from the landfill in 2023, making it the highest ranked venue in the country for waste diversion. 

They focus heavily on compost, recycling and donations. They also manage their diversion rate through the products they source.  

They have also managed to reduce plastic consumption through their partnership with Liquid Death, opting for canned water instead of plastic water bottles and have free water bottle refill stations available to all. 

This year, they are all plastic cups to #1 PET plastic, a higher quality plastic that is more widely accepted by recycling facilities. 

During events held at their facility, they extend invitations to local non-profit organizations with a focus on sustainability to participate in tabling activities. This initiative serves to engage with a diverse audience demographic, providing an avenue for these organizations to educate individuals who may have varying levels of awareness regarding sustainable efforts within our community. 

Furthermore, their commitment is demonstrated through various donation drives, including their collaboration with Second Harvest Food Bank for a monetary food drive and our Green Zone Recycling clothing drive. These efforts are further amplified through their verified Instagram account, where they actively promote their Zero-Waste initiatives and other sustainability endeavors. 

Since the inception of their Sustainability program, their focus has been on fostering a culture of environmental responsibility within their company. They actively promote sustainable practices by incentivizing employees to embrace eco-friendly alternatives, such as opting for reusable water bottles. 

Continuously seeking avenues to enhance their social consciousness and sustainable practices, they remain dedicated to extending our impact beyond the boundaries of their venue and throughout the wider community.