Green Business Practices

Below is a list of some of the green business practices at work in our store.

Building Reuse

We worked with Studio Four Design when we moved into our new location. A priority from the beginning of the project was to reuse as much of the existing building floor, walls and roof as possible. The ‘ghost’ of the original building is still visible both inside and outside.

Development Density & Community Connectivity

The facility is conveniently located in both residential and commercial zoning, providing easy access to the neighboring areas with spacious sidewalks. The site is positioned within ½ mile of many basic services and buildings, allowing customers to shop and live within the local district.

Alternative Transportation

Our area is great for biking. North Central Street features bike lanes and we have seven secure bike racks (made from 96% recycled materials) provided near the entry to the store for the convenience of our customers. We have a bike fix-it station with everything you need for minor repairs and airing up your tires, courtesy of local, independent, nearby bike shop Tennessee Valley Bikes. Three Rivers Market is located on two bus routes and is the only grocery store in Knoxville that participates in the Shop and Ride Program, offering a free bus ticket to all customers who make a purchase of $10 or more. We also nourish a healthier environment with an Alternative Commuting benefit, which pays Employees for each day they walk, bike, carpool, or take the bus to and from work.

Energy Conservation

The building incorporates many energy-conservation elements.

      • The roofing system utilizes “SIPS” panels, which are Interior & Exterior Sheathing [or plywood] with 6” of insulated Styrofoam sandwiched between the boards.
      • The mechanical systems were designed for optimal performance and energy conservation, as well as increased ventilation for outstanding indoor air quality.
      • The refrigeration systems are energy efficient units and utilize heat capture from the refrigeration systems to pre-heat hot water.
      • Building overhangs and entry canopy provide shading for the glazing in the building to reduce solar heat gain
      • The building’s lighting is environmentally conscious and energy efficient fixtures were selected.

Green Power

The co-op has proudly participated in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Green Power Switch program since its inception, purchasing 33 Green Power Blocks of renewable energy each month. In June of 2014, we became a TVA Green Power Provider ourselves as we invested in a new 49.88 kilowatt, 344-module solar photovoltaic system for the south facing Baxter Avenue side of our roof. Tennessee’s ARiES Energy installed our sleek black solar panels, which are environmentally responsibly made in Mississippi by Stion, in full compliance with the European Union Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. Have questions? Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about our solar system!


Most of the retail floor, including the refrigeration cases, is lit with energy-efficient LEDs; all offices, restrooms, kitchen, break-room, etc. have occupancy sensors to reduce power consumption when not in use; and all of the lighting for the sales floor and exterior is controlled by a programmable system to maximize energy-efficiency.

Storage & Collection of Recyclables

From compost, glass, paper, cardboard, aluminum and more… Three Rivers Market is intentional about waste management. Dedicated recycling areas are found in the dining area, break room, and office spaces and we maintain 2 recycling dumpsters for weekly pick ups. Three Rivers Market also donates cardboard trays to Young-Williams Animal Center who uses them for pet bedding.

Three Rivers Market also collects organic material for composting at local farms and gardens, and contracts with Waste Connections and the Knoxville Recycling Coalition to collect other recyclable materials.

Indoor Air Quality

In an effort to protect the quality of food and occupants, the building’s finishes are low-emitting to reduce the indoor air contaminants.

Daylight & Views: Daylight

The new facility incorporates a large ribbon of glass surrounding the sales floor, allowing natural light to spill into the space and offering views of the surrounding treetops. Occupants will enjoy the introduction of daylight into the entire public space, as well as the main office.


A natural landscaping plan for water quality, aesthetics, and promotion of certain plants was implemented in the spring of 2013. It features native and edible plants, including blueberries along the patio, pollinator gardens, a demonstration herb garden, and bio-treatment depressions for storm-water as well as water catchment. Annuals will continue to be replanted each spring. This is the key element of Three Rivers Market’s vision. Our construction and relocation plan was to transform an abandoned bread warehouse with no green space into a vibrant, cooperative center of sustainable commerce featuring functional and beautiful natural landscaping.

We also had an initial focus on the major work on the interior of the sidewalk. The City of Knoxville has incorporated the area on the exterior of the sidewalk along Baxter Avenue between Central and Alexander into the Streetscapes Project for Downtown North. The plan includes widening the sidewalk and green-space on both sides of Baxter, so these parts of our plan have been set aside.

Our plan was designed by Leah Gardner, MLA, a gifted local Environmental Design Consultant specializing in natural landscaping.

LEED Accredited Professional

The design team included a LEED accredited professional. Throughout the project, careful attention was taken to ensure design and environment related issues were addressed in a green, sustainable mind frame.

Stormwater Design: Quantity Control

The City of Knoxville complies with the EPA’s requirements for Stormwater Runoff, to reduce pollution and contamination.

Water Use Reduction

Water-efficient plumbing fixtures and equipment were selected to conserve overall water usage and consumption within the store, and are based on the EPA Act of 1992.

Green Award

Three Rivers Market is a proud recipient of a 2012 Green Project Award from the U.S. Green Building Council, East Tennessee Chapter.