TOWNSEND, TN. — Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont has been awarded $250,000 from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)’s Connected Communities Pilot Program to support the development of Tremont’s second campus. With the funds, Tremont will complete a detailed engineering design to retrofit an existing house into a regenerative education center, the first phase of their ambitious second campus project.

Tremont is a nonprofit environmental education center located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For over 50 years, Tremont has invited youth and adults to their campus for immersive, multi-day experiences designed to connect people and nature. The second campus will expand Tremont’s work, allowing for greater program capacity while demonstrating sustainability and equity efforts.

To build a campus that reflects Tremont’s values, the second campus will meet the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge, a framework of rigorous regenerative building standards that incorporate clean energy goals, sustainable building practices, and a positive impact on the surrounding community.

McCarty Holsaple McCarty team visit Tremont’s original campus located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo courtesy of McCarty Holsaple McCarty.

After a competitive selection process, Tremont leadership has selected McCarty Holsaple McCarty Architects as their partner firm for the first phase of the project. The Knoxville-based firm will work closely with Hennebery Eddy, an architecture and planning firm with offices in Oregon and Montana. Hennebery Eddy’s portfolio includes Living Building Challenge projects, as well as environmental education campuses and National Park Service projects.

“Tremont’s new education center is going to be unlike anything that we’ve seen in our region,” said John Thurman, Principal with McCarty Holsaple McCarty. “The net-positive energy systems and place-based, equitable design is going to make this a place where anyone feels invited to connect with nature and imagine a bright and beautiful future.”

TVA’s Connected Communities Pilot Program provides resources and funding for innovative solutions that address challenges and create long-term improvement in expanding equitable access to services through broadband and online platforms, promoting economic empowerment for the Valley workforce, and/or advancing energy and environmental justice in communities throughout the Valley.

“Connecting sustainable buildings to the natural world is a novel approach for addressing the inequities in energy and environment,” said Georgia Caruthers, senior program manager of the TVA Connected Communities initiative. “TVA is proud to help contribute to an education center that includes technology-driven solutions and honored to support experiential learning that will positively impact the economy, workforce development and education.”

Tremont’s education center aims to be the first retrofitted Living Building Challenge building in the TVA region.

“We’re so excited to kick off the first phase of our second campus,” said Catey McClary, President and CEO at Tremont. “This is a step toward a future we want to see for Tremont, for East Tennessee, and for our world.”

To learn more about Tremont’s second campus, visit


Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont provides in-depth experiences through educational programs that celebrate ecological and cultural diversity, foster stewardship, and nurture appreciation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn more at


November 8, 2022

Erin Rosolina, Tremont Institute
(865) 448-6709, [email protected]

Cover image: Tremont President and CEO Catey McClary and board members discuss the future of the second campus while visiting the Townsend property. Photo by Erin Rosolina.