Thomas Built Buses recognized for outstanding environmental efforts

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today recognized High Point's Thomas Built Buses Inc. as a 2011 Environmental Steward.

The state's Environmental Stewardship Initiative, designed to promote and encourage superior environmental performance by North Carolina's regulated community, began in 2002. An "Environmental Steward" is an organization that has demonstrated environmental leadership through its commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by regulation. As an Environmental Steward, the organization commits to reporting annually on its environmental performance.

The award recognizes Thomas Built Buses' superior environmental performance, commitment to continued reduction of its environmental impact and demonstrated commitment to exceed compliance. The facility joins only 15 other facilities in the state who have achieved this recognition.

"Companies like Thomas Built Buses show that industrial success and environmental stewardship can go hand-in-hand," said DENR Secretary Dee Freeman. "It is commendable that even after the company achieved its goal to send no waste to the landfill, it is reaching even further to reduce the amount of non-recyclable trash sent to a waste-to-energy facility, through employee awareness and education and materials substitution."

A 10-member advisory board appointed by Secretary Freeman provides program direction and implementation and recommended the recognition of the Thomas Built Buses facility. Advisory board membership consists of individuals from industry, industry trade groups, environmental and citizen nongovernmental organizations, government, academia and small business. (Advisory board members are listed below.)

Reasons cited by the advisory board in its recognition of the facility include:

  • Integration of environmental management into core business operations through multiple processes for internal communication of environmental issues, lean practices, and driving environmental awareness through efficiency improvement and awards programs;
  • Its compliance history and commitment to continual improvement including creative partnerships to bring technology such as a solar array to the community;
  • The facility's commitment to continue to reduce waste even after achieving its zero waste-to-landfill goal through a waste-to-energy plan;
  • The facility's 24 percent decrease in energy usage over the last five years; and
  • The facility's 42 percent decrease in its water consumption over the last five years.

"We are genuinely honored to be recognized as an Environmental Steward," said Kelley Platt, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. "And, while we welcome the opportunity to celebrate this achievement, our commitment to environmental stewardship is more than just one moment in time. For all of us at Thomas Built Buses, this is an ongoing commitment that is part of our culture, part of the way we think and the way we do business."

The ESI program has two additional levels of participation and recognition: Environmental Partner and Rising Environmental Steward. The Environmental Partner level is designed for adoption by a broad range of organizations that are interested in beginning the process of developing a systematic approach to improving their environmental performance. Partners must demonstrate a commitment to maintain compliance, commit to establishing an environmental management system and set environmental performance goals. The Environmental Rising Steward level is recommended to organizations that have a mature EMS in place and have set site-specific measurable environmental performance goals.

For more detailed information or to apply for the program, please visit the Environmental Stewardship Initiative Web site at or contact Angela Barger or Julie Woosley with the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach at 919-707-8100 or

2011 Advisory Workgroup Members

  • Jennifer Adams; Corning Inc. – Wilmington Optical Fiber Facility
  • Dr. Robert Bruck; North Carolina State University
  • Stephen Jenkins; Engineered Sintered Components
  • Brian Kasher; Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
  • Kim Killian; GKN - Precision Forming
  • Edythe McKinney (chair); Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Dan Miller; Fleet Readiness Center East
  • Ray Price; Smithfield Packing - Wilson
  • Robin Smith; N.C. League of Conservation Voters
  • Steve Street; Hickory Manufacturing and Technology Center, Corning Cable Systems - LLC
  • Danny Yount; ASMO North America