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05 January 2022 · 7 min. read

Chattanooga’s Smart Grid earns PEER Gold certification for resilience and sustainability

Volkswagen in Chattanooga leverages local PEER certification to advance its facilities

Chattanooga, TN (Jan. 5, 2022) – Chattanooga’s Smart Grid, operated by EPB, has been recognized by Green Business Certification Inc.TM (GBCI), the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body, for achieving PEER Gold (Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal™) recertification. PEER is the world’s first certification program that measures and improves power system performance and electricity infrastructure, and advances sustainable, resilient and reliable energy systems. This announcement builds on EPB’s designation in 2015 as the first municipal utility to achieve PEER certification.

“Through their Gold recertification, Chattanooga has achieved the most resilient and reliable PEER-certified utility power grid in the United States,” said Sean McMahon, Vice President of Product Management at GBCI.

Because the new designation recognizes that EPB has integrated a high degree of environmental stewardship into its advanced electricity distribution system, companies in EPB’s service area can earn extra points toward the LEED certification of their green development projects. LEED is the world’s premiere green building rating system, and recognizes projects that are conserving energy and water, avoiding waste, saving on maintenance costs, improving indoor air quality, creating less environmental burden on their communities and enhancing occupant health and wellness.

Building on its continuing commitment to environmental sustainability, Volkswagen Group of America is to integrate Chattanooga’s Smart Grid designation into its pre-established plan to build its new Chattanooga-based Battery Engineering Lab to LEED’s green building standard. The Battery Engineering Lab will house battery testing and high-voltage component engineering, and will drive Volkswagen’s strategy to center assembly of electric vehicles and battery know-how at its Chattanooga site.

“We’re building our Battery Engineering Lab with sustainable development in mind, and we’re proud to team up with GBCI and EPB to facilitate the project,” said Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President at Volkswagen’s Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga. “This effort is part of Volkswagen’s commitment to establishing more environmentally sustainable facilities in Chattanooga, where we will add comprehensive battery know-how and the localized production of electric vehicles soon, shaping Volkswagen’s electric future in America.”

According to McMahon, the integrative collaboration between Volkswagen and EPB exemplifies an important step toward becoming more environmentally sustainable. “LEED establishes a much-needed framework for energy efficiency in buildings. But to ensure sustainability in our power systems, we need to go outside the building,” said McMahon. “After all, a building is only as green as the power that goes into it. Modeled after LEED, PEER addresses these needs to build in resilience, reliability, and sustainable practices, which are then amplified by LEED-certified buildings, like Volkswagen’s facilities, which use that power.”

Volkswagen’s Battery Engineering Lab is the latest in a continuing series of examples of the carmaker’s commitment to the environment. In 2012, Volkswagen’s facilities in Chattanooga were announced to be the first LEED Platinum certified automotive manufacturing plant in the world, also thanks to a highly integrated development plan which includes a 33-acre solar installation that can generate up to 9.6 megawatts of power.

According to David Wade, president and CEO of EPB, supporting Volkswagen in the LEED development of its Battery Engineering Lab is a great starting point for working with other companies to support job creation and environmental stewardship. “We appreciate Volkswagen for being the first to join EPB in this effort,” said David Wade. “We stand ready to work with other local companies and potential business investors to help facilitate their green building efforts. Together, we can enhance our community’s air quality and preserve its natural beauty while maintaining and creating new job opportunities.”

EPB’s PEER Gold certification is an important tool for job creation because it provides third-party verification from GBCI that the Chattanooga area’s electric infrastructure is the most resilient and reliable PEER-certified utility power grid in the United States. The PEER designation also certifies that EPB’s infrastructure is ready for renewables, battery storage and EVs while also achieving a high standard for environmentally sustainable power system operations.

EPB is a community-owned electric and communications utility serving the Greater Chattanooga area. About a decade ago, EPB established one of the most advanced smart grid electric distribution systems in the United States. The EPB Smart Grid provides a level of automation and control that allows the utility to reduce power outages and manage power loads to better integrate sustainable power generation sources like solar and reduce environmental impact.

EPB’s new PEER Gold certification adds to Chattanooga’s growing list of environmental and climate resilience accolades which help support economic development and talent recruitment efforts in Chattanooga and the surrounding area.

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About VW

Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWGoA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers and the largest carmaker in Europe. VWGoA houses the U.S. operations of a worldwide family of distinguished and exciting brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Volkswagen, as well as VW Credit, Inc. Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of VWGoA, operates an assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. VWGoA’s headquarters are in Herndon, Va. The company has approximately 6,000 employees in the United States, and sells its vehicles through a network of approximately 1,000 independent dealers.

About GBCI

GBCI is the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body. Established in 2008, GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems, as well as the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL Building Standard, the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES), EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies), TRUE certification for zero waste, Investor Confidence Project (ICP) for energy efficiency retrofits and RELi for resilient design. Visit gbci.org for more.

About PEER

The PEER Rating System measures and improves power system performance and electricity infrastructure. PEER encourages the adoption of reliable, resilient and sustainable practices, and helps utilities solve aging infrastructure, find cost savings, share best practices, build for resiliency and enhance tracking to prevent failures. PEER evaluates and verifies a power system’s performance across four categories: reliability and resiliency; energy efficiency and environment; operations, management and safety; and grid services. The program can be used for power systems of all sizes, including campuses, microgrids, critical infrastructure, an entire city’s grid or utility territory, and even transit systems. A PEER certification signifies that a system is resilient in the face of disasters, reliable in its ability to meet every day needs and sustainable in a way that prioritizes efficiency and mitigates the impacts of climate risk. Learn more at peer.gbci.org.

About EPB

EPB serves the people of the Chattanooga area with advanced smart city infrastructure to enable world-class energy and connectivity solutions that include the most resilient smart grid power distribution system in the United States and the fastest internet in the world. EPB gained national notice when it deployed a community-wide fiber optic network accessible to all its customers and used it to launch America’s first Gig-speed internet in 2010 (beating Google Fiber by 4 years) as well as the first 10 Gig internet service available as a standard offer to all residences and businesses in 2015.

EPB also utilized the fiber optic network as the communications backbone for deploying more than 200,000 smart switches, sensors and other devices to establish the most advanced and highly automated smart grid in the nation. As a result, the U.S. Department of Energy named EPB a living laboratory for pioneering smart grid technologies. Since then, EPB has partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and more than 20 other national research partners to play a critical role in more than $155 million in smart city research. EPB was also the first major power distribution utility to earn the GBCI’s PEER certification for having a highly automated, modernized electric power grid in 2015 and followed up in 2021 by re-certifying at PEER Gold.

EPB is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga which began serving customers in 1939. Visit epb.com for more information.

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