Thursday, December 1, 2011

Knoxville Wins DOE Solar Rooftop Challenge Award with Nashville and Memphis

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, today Energy Secretary Steven Chu was joined by Lynn Jurich, the president and co-founder of the solar power company SunRun, and Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman to announce $12 million in funding for the awardees of the Rooftop Solar Challenge. The Challenge supports 22 regional teams to spur solar power deployment by cutting red tape—streamlining and standardizing permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes—and improving finance options to reduce barriers and lower costs for residential and small commercial rooftop solar systems. This project is part of the Department's larger effort to make solar energy more accessible and affordable, increase domestic solar deployment, and position the United States as a leader in the rapidly-growing global solar market.

"Through this competition, the Energy Department is helping to unleash America's solar potential by investing in projects that will make it faster, easier, and cheaper to finance and deploy solar power in communities across the country," said Secretary Chu. "These awards will reduce the cost homeowners and businesses pay to install solar energy systems, while at the same time saving money and time for local governments faced with tight budgets."

The DOE SunShot Initiative is a collaborative national effort to make solar cost-competitive with other forms of energy by the end of the decade. Reducing the installed cost of solar energy systems by about 75% will drive widespread large-scale adoption of solar—fortifying U.S. leadership in the global clean energy race while spurring new industries and job creation across the nation.

Non-hardware, or "soft," costs like permitting, installation, design, and maintenance currently account for up to 40% of the total cost of installed rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States. Across the nation today, there are more than 18,000 local jurisdictions with their own PV permitting requirements, land use codes and zoning ordinances; more than 5,000 utilities that are implementing standards for connecting and selling energy back to the energy grid; and all 50 states are developing their own connection standards and processes for supplying and pricing energy sold back to the grid. According to a report released earlier this year by SunRun, local permitting and inspection processes alone add about $0.50 per watt, or $2,500 per residential installation nation-wide.

Using a "race to the top" model, the Rooftop Solar Challenge incentivizes the regional awardees to address the differing and expensive permitting, zoning, metering, and connection processes required to install and finance residential and small business solar systems. The 22 diverse teams bring together city, county, and state officials, regulatory entities, private industry, universities, local utilities, and other regional stakeholders to clear a path for rapid expansion of solar energy and serve as models for other communities across the country.

The teams will implement step-by-step actions to standardize permit processes, update planning and zoning codes, improve standards for connecting solar power to the electric grid and increase access to financing.


Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 ACEE Scorecard and Fall Events

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Tennessee in the top 6 most improved states in the nation.

Also, Beadsley Farm's Fall SkillShare is Oct 29th, and Raise the Roots is Nov 7th. They are having a photo show at the Tomato Head in November, then in Maryville in December!

“Growing Healthy Communities: A Closer Look at CAC Beardsley Farm,” a photographic exhibit on display at The Tomato Head in Knoxville throughout the month of November. All photographs were taken by CAC Beardsley Community Farm staff and depict various aspects of the urban demonstration site. Prints on display were generously provided by Thompson Photo of Knoxville, TN. Additional prints of the artwork are available upon request; please contact for pricing and more information. The photographic exhibit will occur in conjunction with Raise the Roots benefit dinner at The Tomato Head on November 7th. For tickets and information, please see All proceeds from the dinner and print sales go to benefit CAC Beardsley Community Farm. CAC Beardsley Community Farm has promoted food security and sustainable urban agriculture through practice, education, and community outreach for 13 years. Beardsley’s efforts include a large urban demonstration garden that generates produce donations for those in need, a community garden, and education programs through workshops and school field trips to the farm site.

The exhibit will also be on display at The Tomato Head in Maryville during the month of December.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Events from Beardsley Community Farm

Saturday Work Day
Saturday, October 8 from 9 AM - 12 PM at CAC Beardsley Community Farm

We will have a open volunteer work day on October 8th. Come learn about Beardsley Community Farm and urban gardening while helping us prepare the farm for winter. We depend upon community support and love to see new and old faces at the farm. As always, the whole family is welcome. Please wear closed-toed shoes and be ready to get dirty!

Fall SkillShare
Saturday, October 29 from 10 AM - 4 PM at CAC Beardsley Community Farm

We are proud to announce our first SkillShare event this coming month. SkillShare will be a day of workshops that cover a wide range of agricultural topics, such as vermicomposting, cold weather gardening, and wild foraging. The final schedule will be ready soon so please stay tuned for more information.

Raise the Roots
Monday, November 7 from 6 PM - 9 PM at The Tomato Head

Join us for our second annual Raise the Roots dinner at The Tomato Head. Food will be locally-sourced and prepared by owner Mahasti Vafaie, Tomato Head Staff, and the Beardsley Farm team. Guests will have an opportunity to learn about CAC Beardsley Community Farm, meet farm volunteers, and share their experiences gardening and cooking in Knoxville and East Tennessee. All are welcome. Tickets are $30 for adults, $10 for children, and $100 for a table of four. They can be purchased here:

Friday, September 23, 2011

2011 Home Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Fair

The 2011 Home Energy Efficiency and Weatherization Fair with the Knoxville / Knox County CAC is scheduled Friday, October 28th from 10 AM to 2 PM at the L.T. Ross building, 2247 Western Ave.

Participating organizations will each be assigned an area in which to set up their displays or demonstrations of products or techniques.

Participants are welcome to arrive as early as 9:00 AM to set up their displays. All displays should be taken down by 3:00 PM. Volunteers will be on-hand to assist in setting up and taking down displays.

If you have any questions, please contact Stacy Gloss at (865) 244-3080. We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knoxville's Green Building Incentive Update

The City of Knoxville's Green Building Incentive Program will begin tomorrow, September 21, 2011. The program will be administered by Knox CAC Housing and Energy Services. The goal of the program is to incentivize the Knoxville community to build or retrofit structures to create energy efficient buildings and deploy solar technologies. Rebates will be available for residential homes and buildings that house commercial or non-profit businesses. After completing energy assessments and specified energy-saving measures, participants will be eligible for rebates to cover some of the costs of completing an energy audit, purchasing energy efficient appliances, and installing solar photovoltaic and solar water heating systems.

For more information, visit or call
CAC Housing and Energy Services at (865) 244-3080.
The official press release can be found here.
Draft documents, followed by final documents, can be found at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Knoxville's Green Building Incentive

The City of Knoxville's Green Building Incentive is close to being released. This program has been in development for quite awhile and we are excited to see it launch. The program has passed City Council and will be administered by Knox CAC. We are busy finalizing the details, but the plan is to begin accepting applications next Wednesday, September 21st.

Draft documents are available here.

Currently proposed rebates include:

Energy Assessment Incentive - $150.00 Rebate

Energy Efficient Appliance Incentive - Up to $1,650 Rebate
(Purchase of 2 or more required)
-Refrigerator - $500
-Water Heater - $750
-Toilet (up to 2) - $200

Solar Photovoltaic Incentive
-Commercial - $1,000 per kW installed capacity up to 5kW
-Residential - $2,000 per kW installed capacity up to 5kW
-Non-profit - $3,000 per kW installed capacity up to 5kW

Solar Water Heating
1-3 Collector Panel System - $1,000
4-5 Collector Panel System - $2,000
6+ Collector Panel System - $3,000

Look for the final program guidelines, documents, and press release in the coming days. Please e-mail with any questions.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Car Sharing Comes to Knoxville

The Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) is soliciting proposals from firms, joint ventures and/or partnerships to implement and operate a car sharing program. Proposals are due Sept. 29, 2011 at 2 p.m.

With car sharing, people can rent cars for short periods of time. They are attractive to customers who make only occasional use of a vehicle, as well as others who would like occasional access to a vehicle of a different type than they use day-to-day.

Download the RFP at:

Friday, July 22, 2011

3% Finance Opportunity for Energy Projects

For a limited time, Pathway Lending is offering 3% financing for Energy Efficiency Projects.

Through September 30th, 2011 qualified borrowers can take advantage of Pathway Lending's Summer Rate Sale to beat the heat and their climbing utility bills.

$20,000 to $5 Million
100% Financing at 3% Interest
Terms to 60 Months


Monday, July 11, 2011

Community Gardening Volunteer Opportunity

If you're interested in learning what goes into making a community garden work or in just getting your hands dirty for a bit, here's your chance:

Saturday July 16 from 9 to 11 AM, a volunteer group from St. John's Lutheran Church on Broadway will be working at the Salvation Army's Community Garden.

Salvation Army is located at 409 N Broadway. Park in front, then walk around the north side of the building toward the loading dock. As you get to that area, you'll a trash collection area; go around to the right and you'll see the garden. Ask for John Tirro, tell him you want to help!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Knoxville's Energy & Sustainability Work Plan

Knoxville's first Energy & Sustainability Work Plan can be found here.

This document reflects the recommendations of the City’s Energy and Sustainability Task Force and is a living guiding document.

To the many volunteers who contributed content, thank you for committing your personal time and energy to actively and positively impact our community. You reached out, took time to fully understand issues, and thoughtfully vetted action items. Your contributions absolutely matter: out of 31 recommendations, 17 are already underway. Thanks for investing in Knoxville.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

City County Building Recycling Update

Message from Public Building Authority to City County Building Dwellers:

Our combined efforts in recycling are going so well, we in the PBA have had to contact Waste Management to have the solid waste trash container collection schedule reduced by two days service versus the five day a week original schedule. We could not have given this great news without the help of our fellow partners in the City of Knoxville, Knox County, Premiere Building Maintenance, CCB Coffee Shop Management and the Sertoma Center. All have been instrumental in this new call to set an example and to challenge other government facilities in their recycling programs. We all are aware that we have areas to improve in so each step forward we believe will continue to take us all on this continued journey called recycling.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Commercial Retrofit Opportunity

TVA has updated its Commercial Incentive Program. Details here.

This is a great way to bring in cash to pay for building improvements if you own businesses that consume significant amounts of energy. TVA gets reduced demand so they don't have to build new power generation facilities, and you get a check and a utility bill reduction, so it's a win-win. The City was able to catpure over $200,000 in TVA incentive through our ongoing upgrade project.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Publicity for Sustainability Efforts

Check out the national blog post highlighting our Energy Service Performance Contract progress here.

Also, the City of Knoxville is named a 2011 ET Green Achiever, winning the Renewable Energy category for the third party finance agreement for solar on the convention center.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Events from Beardsley Community Farm

Wednesdays, March 23rd- May 25th, 5-7 pm, Free!
Urban Land Scout Workshops

The URBAN LAND SCOUTS are a scouting group open to all people who wish to become better stewards of the land where they live. Each Wednesday, the Urban Land Scouts will be engaged in activities ranging from cultivate native or edible plants, growing vegetables, to teaching others what they know. Bring a water bottle and wear close-toed shoes and clothing appropriate for being outside. We will meet at CAC Beardsley Community Farm, 1719 Reynolds St., (behind the Cansler Boys and Girls Club).
Email for more information.

May 21 - CAC Beardsley Community Farm Workday/ Chicken Raising Workshop
9 AM-10 AM for the workshop, 9 AM-12 for the workday

Guest speaker Kelly Robinson will be coming to CAC Beardsley Community Farm to discuss the ins and outs of urban-chicken-keeping. Meet our chickens, bring pictures of your own, and see if urban-chicken-keeping is right for you. We will be unveiling our new chicken tractor, and discussing the new hen ordinances of Knoxville County. After the workshop, spend some time helping out on the farm in the (hopefully) lovely weather of May.

June 4 - FarmFest, 11 AM - 3 PM

Farm tours, children's activities, live music, food, craft, and plant vendors, and more.

June 27 - Summer Supper 6 PM

Disappointed that you missed out on our fall fundraising event, "Raise the Roots"? You have another chance to come out and support CAC Beardsley Community Farm while eating delicious Tomato Head food, socializing with some great people and learning about urban gardening. You may purchase tickets at An individual ticket is $30, and a table of six is $200

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Free Local Spring Green Events:

Green Buildings for Cool Cities Tour
Saturday, March 26
2 PM – 4 PM
Open house at the Victorian Green House (1011 Victorian Way) from 2 PM until 4 PM
John J. Duncan Jr. Knoxville Station Transit Center Tours at 2 PM, 2:30 PM, 3 PM and 3:30 PM

Third Creek Greenway Cleanup
Saturday, March 26
12 PM – 3 PM
Tyson Park

22nd Ijams Annual River Rescue
Saturday, April 2
10 AM-2 PM
Various sites in Knoxville
RSVP - Call Sarah Brobst at 865-577-4717 x 24

Saturday, April 16
10 AM - 5 PM
Pellissippi State - Hardin Valley Campus
Free Admission

Solar America Cities Ceremony
Wednesday, April 20
10:30 AM-12:00 PM
World's Fair Park Pavilion

Residential Energy Code Training
Wednesday, April 20
8 AM - 5 PM
Pellissippi State - Hardin Valley Campus
Free Admission, Lunch Provided

Commercial Energy Code
Thursday, April 21
8 AM - 5 PM
Pellissippi State - Hardin Valley Campus
Free Admission, Lunch Provided

Ongoing: Brown Bag Green Book
Thursdays, March 23, April 20, May 18 and June 15
12 PM – 1 PM
East Tennessee History Center

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Progress Update

Here's a brief update on some of the work we've been doing so far in 2011:

1.) We compiled and fleshed out the content of the Energy & Sustainability work plan many of you spent so much of your time contributing to during 2010, and have turned it into a solid working draft document. In December, Knoxville was asked to serve on a National Academies committee on incorporating sustainability into the U.S. EPA, so to take advantage of working closely with national and international sustainability experts, the draft will be circulated for comment as soon as what we're learning from that experience can be rolled into our plan as well. Additionally, we are closing in on metrics and a model to track our progress, so implementation will have measurable results.

2.) The East Tennessee Quality Growth group has been hard at work developing a spring conference - March 30-31 are the dates, at the convention center.

3.) The Solar America Cities Grant is in its final months, with a 100-fold increase in grid connected solar since 2007. Jake Tisinger, our Sustainability Coordinator who is currently funded through that grant will now be funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) through 2012, so we are fortunate DOE was flexible with that.

4.) The City has hit all of the DOE EECBG spend deadlines to date, and the work is 36% complete. Highlights so far include:

- Weatherization of 19 local homes;
- 11 HVAC replacement in City Fire Stations;
- Earthcraft training will be available for free February 28 and March 1, and Energy Code Training dates are April 20-21 (865-539-7167 to register);
- Rollout of the City's single stream curbside recycling program marketing campaign for sign-ups starting in May; and
- Contract drafting for CAC administration of a 2011 solar and appliance rebate program, and contract drafting for third party financed solar on the convention center in progress.

5.) An Electric Vehicle Hosting Partners Forum will be at the Chamber February 24 from 10 AM to 12 PM. Interested parties can attend to learn about hosting a charging station. City right of way locations for both solar and non-solar electric vehicle infrastructure have been assessed and the contract with ECOtaility is being negotiated currently. Installation schedules are dependant on final DOE approvals.

6.) Knoxville's Transportation Planning Authority was awarded a grant to supplement a car-share program; the City and UTK will partner with them to host parking spaces on campus and downtown for those vehicles. That request for qualifications will be posted on TPO's website soon.