Urban Green Lab Inc.

Live Sustainably

aka Urban Green Lab   |   Nashville, TN   |  https://urbangreenlab.org


At Urban Green Lab, we teach communities how to live sustainable lives. Founded in 2009, we work to ensure all of us have access to sustainable living education, with an emphasis on preventing waste. Through a focus on classrooms, households, and workplaces -- places where culture begins -- Urban Green Lab transforms spaces into “labs” for rethinking what it means to live sustainably by training and certifying professionals, organizing and facilitating exchange of best practices, connecting institutions with services, and encouraging people to feel good about being part of the solution.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Mr. Todd Lawrence

Main address

1310 Clinton Street Suite 205

Nashville, TN 37203-2888 USA

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NTEE code info

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

Education N.E.C. (B99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Urban Green Lab was founded in 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee, and incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2011. The organization began as a group of passionate friends with a shared mission of sustainability education and an idea to build a brick-and-mortar center where the community could learn the basics of sustainable living. In 2013, Urban Green Lab hired its first executive director, and in 2016, shifted its outreach to a mobile laboratory that delivers sustainable living education citywide. Today, our mission thrives in systemic ways through our classrooms, households, and workplaces.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Sustainable Classrooms

The Sustainable Classrooms program trains teachers how to incorporate sustainable living education into their classrooms for professional development credit. Sustainable Classrooms offers year-round STEAM-focused trainings for K-12 public and private school teachers in Middle Tennessee, with topics ranging from energy and water conservation, to food waste, solid waste and litter management, transportation and the built environment, and air quality. Materials include standards-aligned lessons, student-led home investigations, and a project utilizing 21st-century skills, social-emotional learning, and project-based learning.

Population(s) Served

The Nashville Environmental Justice Initiative (NEJI) works to educate community stakeholders on the tenants of environmental justice and collaborative problem solving that protects and empowers Nashville’s most marginalized communities from environmental hazards. Through a partnership between Urban Green Lab and Tennessee State University, the initiative is designed to grow a culture of systemic learning around environmental justice in the city by exploring the issues facing marginalized communities today, developing impactful educational solutions, and connecting thought leaders to better mobilize their collective impact so Nashville grows responsibly for its people, profit, and the planet.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups

Urban Green Lab officially recognizes community institutions – like schools, businesses, and nonprofits -- as Nashville-approved “Urban Green Labs.” A lab is any workplace that proves its commitment to the practice and training of sustainable behaviors and explores new ways for making decisions that better protect our people, profit, and planet. We use an annual assessment to diagnose your needs, then work together to kickstart your green team, create a strategic plan, connect you with fellow workplaces and experts, and help better tell your story.

Population(s) Served

Founded by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in 2015 and in partnership with the Environmental Law Institute, the Nashville Food Waste Initiative (NFWI) drives citywide policies and strategies that reduce food waste by preventing wasted food, rescuing surplus food for those in need, and composting and recycling food scraps to build healthy soil. Through the NFWI, Urban Green Lab organizes, trains, and connects diverse food waste stakeholders year-round and offers training for how you can reduce food waste in your own institution.

Population(s) Served

The Nashville Sustainability Roundtable brings together professionals (including young professionals) from all corners of the city year-round to learn, exchange best practices, and act collectively on sustainability issues. Free and open to anyone, the Roundtable’s topics are based on Nashville’s own sustainability story, but grounded in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Roundtable includes expert panels, networking with local vendors, workshop-style interaction, and the chance to join industry-specific committees.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Children and youth

Students in Sustainability matches Nashville high school juniors and seniors with local business green teams (including nonprofits) to learn how workplaces strive to become more sustainable. Each academic year, small cohorts of students work alongside green team professionals (now virtually due to COVID-19) to help them research and solve actual sustainability challenges, then formally present their solutions at semester’s end. It’s a great way to learn, network, build mentorships and professional skills, and discover how any job can be a green job.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Children and youth

Where we work


Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award 2019

State of Tennessee

Salute to Excellence - The Frist Foundation Award of Achievement - Innovation in Action Award 2019

Center for Nonprofit Management

Affiliations & memberships

Center for Nonprofit Management (Nashville) 2019

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our Sustainable Classrooms division includes regular teacher professional development for schools and districts, personalized cohort trainings, access to standards-aligned sustainable living curricula, and year-round guidance. The Division also includes our own Sustainable Classrooms Curriculum, created in partnership with Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, and a digital app for students to investigate their own household waste prevention opportunities with their families. Classrooms is a crossroads of project-based learning, social emotional learning, civic leadership, and the four “Cs” of STEAM education.

Urban Green Lab also partners with the U.S. Green Building Council to certify teachers as Green Classrooms Professionals, helping advance their careers, credibility, and confidence.

Our Sustainable Households division works closely with nonprofit organizations, neighborhood associations, property managers and volunteer HOAs, music venues, and sports leagues, and includes personalized team trainings, access to sustainable living curricula and tools, and connection to resources that help solve your sustainable living challenges. The Division also hosts the Nonprofit Sustainability Roundtable for Nashville, in partnership with the Center for Nonprofit Management, uniting professionals from organizations large and small to exchange best practices, tour member nonprofits, and advocate collectively.

Our Sustainable Workplaces division includes personalized team trainings, access to sustainable workplace curricula and tools, and introduction to community resources that help you better solve your business’s sustainability challenges. The Division hosts the Corporate Sustainability Roundtable for Nashville, uniting professionals from some 40 companies large and small (Nissan, Kroger, Country Music Television, etc.) to exchange best practices, tour member companies, and advocate collectively, as well as Workforce Discoveries which embeds highschool seniors from the MNPS Academies of Nashville program into company teams.

In 2020, Urban Green Lab adopted a new five-year strategic plan to guide the organization's future growth. The 2025 Plan's goals are:

1. AWARENESS - To increase visibility in the community
2. DIVERSITY - To better respond to the needs of diverse communities
3. MESSAGING - To more clearly communicate our mission and impact
4. COMPETITION - To understand the field in order to catalyze change
5. TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION - To utilize technology to be innovative and efficient
6. STABILITY & EXPANSION - To strengthen our business model to drive growth

For the first time in the organization's history, Urban Green Lab is working from the organizational (vs. programmatic) level utilizing a three-part rubric: Organize, Train and Connect. Our three divisions have longitudinal goals which intersect each of these, creating an interwoven theory of change that embeds all of our programs with an iterative prototyping model, missional deliverables, strategic plans per program, evaluation tactics, and outcomes reporting methods.

We are operating with cross-cutting organizational tasks within each strategic goal:

A. Engage strategically with our diverse and multicultural community
B. Use data to measure and improve outcomes.
C. Know and grow our audience.
D. Use technology to elevate program and operational outcomes.

Our divisional leadership in Sustainable Classrooms, Sustainable Households, and Sustainable Workplaces lead each divisional project or program in coordination with our strategic goals and tasks. Individual programs such as the Nashville Food Waste Initiative are deployed with specificity, in order that the entire agency can manage against our expectations and desired outcomes. Programs now have the support of the full team, utilizing a triumvirate of highly skilled and trained sustainability professionals to design, deploy and debrief on all activities to ensure our work is moving forward, mission aligned and serving our community with measurable results.

Urban Green Lab has successfully moved our operations from an innovative, yet limited, Mobile Laboratory which was housing the majority of our programs. Between 2016 and 2020, the organization has reformed the programming in Classrooms, Households and Workplaces divisions which are led by highly skilled sustainability professionals. With steering committees and roundtables, each division embraces and exemplifies community by serving as a convener, educator and thought leader. Our Sustainable Classrooms training provides professional development for Metro Nashville Public School teachers and private/homeschool educators to enable them to bring sustainability into the classroom for nearly every grade and subject using a standards-aligned curriculum design in partnership with Vanderbilt University. Our Workplaces and Households divisions have grown their roundtable memberships to the point we are now dividing them up by sector (i.e.: construction, hospitality, etc.) for deeper learning. Finally, our organization has been tapped to lead a the Nashville Food Waste Initiative, a national initiative in partnership with the National Resource Defense Council. Our agency has been forward thinking and is seizing the current moment to launch a program focused on environmental justice, to educate stakeholders in neighborhood development how they can support racial justice through equitable decision making in determining commercial (re)development needs in diverse, yet underserved neighborhoods.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Roundtables,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve, Inconsistency in methods of collecting feedback makes implementation challenging,


Urban Green Lab Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Urban Green Lab Inc.

Board of directors
as of 10/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Ms. Emily Davis

Matt Taylor

TDEC (Policy)

Stephanie Gates


Emily Davis


Bradley Pinson

Fifth Third Bank

Liz Garza

North Highlands

Elise Karpinski


Jackie Messmer

Home Depot

Anna Weinroth-Ward

HCA Healthcare

Renee Barker

Milepost Consulting

Peter Candelaria

Silicon Ranch Corporation

Ashford Hughes

Metro Nashville Public Schools

Parry Healy


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/11/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/11/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.