Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Solar Workshops Available

Aries Energy is providing free solar workshops to those interested

The first is an ongoing series at the Bearden Beer Market on, "Better Building Practices". Here is a list of speakers and schedule.

The second is Affordable Residential Solar. Here is the schedule so far.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bearden Beer Market Hosting Green Building Series

"Solar for your Home Workshop with STION"

Bearden Beer Market (BBM) will host a free workshop at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, November 7th with STION, solar panel manufacturer located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. At the workshop you will learn more about solar energy and how you can incorporate into your home or building.

This workshop is part of a series of efforts taking place in the Bearden Beer Market's Best Building Practices Campaign.

One dollar from all pints sold on Wednesdays will go to the BBM's multi-phase campaign - the first being a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof of the beer garden.

Other planned projects include a vegetative roof garden on the North-facing roof, lighting improvements (90% complete), and a porous surface to replace the current blacktop surface on-site.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Knoxville Applies for the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge

A community survey, over 50 responses, a selection committee, a mayoral decision, an application, and a video later, Knoville has submitted for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge grant. Good luck, Knoxville!

Knoxville's Mayors Challenge Video

Here's a thumbnail:

The City of Knoxville wants to create a unique business model that encompasses the entire urban food cycle by connecting land, farming jobs, processing facilities, food transit, sale, and composting.

This idea is bold because it strives to create a replicable plan that encompasses the entire urban food cycle, distilling it into model ordinances and a business strategy that addresses food deserts comprehensively. The plan will provide employment and economic development opportunities, and link three key and as yet unconnected components: re-purposing vacant lots for food production, partnering with existing facilities to establish certified kitchens used to process food, and establishing a legal mechanism to enable a business model of food distribution to those in need and produce sale to local establishments.

Though there is a Harvard tool kit available, no city has yet created a replicable comprehensive local food system that addresses land, jobs, processing, sale, and composting at once on a large scale. This idea creates steady supply for existing demand by tackling difficult zoning regulations, high insurance costs, and cross-sector interaction. It connects the dots.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Knoxville wants to be an IBM Smart City

We're meeting the deadline for this initiative tomorrow.

Here's the pea-sized version:

Knoxville, Tennessee has an aging housing infrastructure that consumes energy in excess, often leaving residents with utility bills too large for them to pay. This results in draw down of resources from helping agencies, but not in direct follow up of weatherization and education services. The resulting cycle wastes millions annually.

Ignoring this problem is economically and socially destructive, and excessively damaging to local health, given that 60% of power consumed in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s territory is coal generated . Knoxville is first in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s 2012 Top Five Allergy Capitals. In part this is due to topography, and in part it is because we could be more proactive about consuming less energy.

Buildings account for 36% of our energy consumption and 65% of electricity consumption. In spite of partnering with local utilities to lead aggressive energy reduction measures in-house, commercially, and residentially, the City of Knoxville lacks a methodical system that connects our vast network of emergency utility services – which identify problem spots - to the solution: weatherization and energy education.

In 2011, five organizations paid 3.3 million for emergency utility bills to the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) on behalf of private struggling residential accounts. This amount assisted 9,670 households, averaging $339 in utility benefits per household. These programs are designed to alleviate the financial pressure experienced by low-income families, rehabilitated citizens, and people who have recently been or are in immediate danger of becoming homeless. However, no follow-up preventative measures are systematically installed to keep this from happening again.

The City of Knoxville would like to utilize the skills and expertise of a talented IBM team to brainstorm a way to track and measure emergency energy services and to recommend the best way to systematically address Knoxville’s older housing stock accordingly. Knoxville is represented on national working groups dedicated to creating strategies for residential energy efficiency programs, so we know that this is a relevant area of study that as of yet has no consistent answer across the United States.

Good luck, Knoxville!

The State of TN has a new Sustainability Office!

And they have a conference. Here's the info, in case anyone is interested in attending:

Sustaining Tennessee’s Future, September 27 & 28 at Montgomery Bell State Park. This conference will focus on both current sustainability initiatives, and future outlooks and challenges, from a variety of businesses, local governments, and organizations across the state.

It will also be a chance to hear firsthand from our Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner about TDECs vision and commitment to sustainability, and the first public unveiling of our newly revamped leadership and recognition (formerly Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership) program.

The State of Tennessee is excited about our agenda and presenters, and we’re confident this will be a great learning and networking opportunity for anyone with an interest in creating a more sustainable Tennessee. Please see Sustaining Tennessee’s Future 2012 for more information, including the conference agenda and online registration.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bloomberg Mayors Challenge - Knoxville Ideas Needed!

It's official, we're applying for this grant.

Your ideas are needed - please respond here!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Case Study Material

Knoxville is featured in a new report, called Powering the New Energy Future from the Ground Up: Profiles in City-Led Clean Energy Innovation

Hold Us Accountable

For anyone interested in the new Office of Sustainability's Performance Measures:


Our citizens have come to expect the City of Knoxville to be a good steward of federal and local tax dollars and to provide sustainable amenities such as recycling, bike lanes, greenways, and proactive zoning. The initial hurdle of showing sustainability as a means of reducing inefficiencies, avoiding costs and improving health, rather than an expensive diminishing of individual rights, has largely been overcome. The time is right to build on the federal financial foundation and embed the program as a way the City operates.

The City evaluates performance by department and individual; however, pay or funding is not tied to performance. The Office of Sustainability will continue to track and perform as if our salaries depend on it, and will evaluate office and staff roles and performance annually to insure we are the best we can be and growing in effectiveness and efficiency.

In 2009, we were established as DOE-funded staff with granted capital for established project funding. In 2010, we established our office as a top DOE performer. In 2011, we established our office as a national leader. In 2012, we were established and recognized as an office with official salaried City staff, with project funding to be obtained through an innovative financing portfolio.


The goal of the Office of Sustainability is to grow economic prosperity through environmental and social responsibility.


To excel both locally and nationally as outlined in the City’s Energy and Sustainability Work Plan and as opportunities arise, in the following categories:

1.) Community Involvement – citizen input and city accountability
2.) Energy – efficiency and renewable energy for all sectors
3.) Goods and Services – responsible purchasing, waste avoidance, and city land management
4.) Infrastructure – making complete streets a priority in retrofits and new construction
5.) Sustainable Growth – ensuring our policies enable sustainable best practices
6.) Transportation – fostering commuting options that suit our community dynamics


1.) Community Involvement – citizen input and city accountability

a.) Publically vetted, created, and distributed the Energy and Sustainability Work Plan; and began implementation of 12 new activities for 2012

b.) Completed public campaigns for the recycling and green building incentive programs

c.) Gave 47 presentations to classes, community groups, state and national audiences

d.) Coordinated 25 workshops and 2 solar tours / fairs to educate 1,163 on solar viability

e.) Developed a Citizen’s How-To Guide for Sustainability (posted online)

2.) Energy – efficiency and renewable energy for all sectors

a.) Completed the Solar America Cities grant on time and in budget: solar capacity in Knoxville/Knox Co. grew from 30 kilowatts (kW) to over 1 megawatt (1,000 kW)

b.) Continued energy data collection partnerships with ORNL and KUB to obtain and use spatial data for energy consumption monitoring

c.) Installed 5 city-owned Solar PV systems for a total of almost 150 kW

d.) Completed all 7 activities in the Department of Energy’s Conservation Block Grant on time, in budget, and cited as a national leader in energy best practice by DOE

f.) Energy retrofits from Ameresco / Energy Savings Performance Contract Phase I completed, measuring results and prepping Phase II

g.) Selected as a Department Of Energy Better Buildings Challenge Partner/City

3.) Goods and Services – responsible purchasing, waste avoidance, and city land management

a.) Reached initial goal of 20,000 in recycling program participants, averaging 673 tons / month diverted waste (including downtown and drop off centers)

b.) Continued to push community garden legislation and programming (for 2013 season)

c.) Started recycling in some parks as budget allows, and at special events

d.) Completed an Employee Purchasing Guide

e.) Developed and rolled out a City Disposables Policy

f.) Recycling Services Contractual Framework developed for joint purchasing

g.) Established permanent downtown recycling for residents

4.) Infrastructure – making complete streets a priority in retrofits and new construction

a.) Installed 14 non-solar and 10 solar charging stations through the EV project

b.) In the process of modifying ordinances to legalize Car sharing program

5.) Sustainable Growth – ensuring our policies enable sustainable best practice

a.) Collaborated with National Academies on sustainability guide: US EPA Green Book

b.) Collaborated with Environmental Law Institute on book Acting as if Tomorrow Matters

c.) In the process of updating Energy Code to 2012 and State standard

d.) Co-founded the Southeast Sustainability Network

6.) Transportation – fostering commuting options that suit our community dynamics

a.) Partnered with TPO on a car sharing program for 2013 program start

b.) Designated part of a city employee’s time to bicycle commuting in ROW

c.) Developed and rolled out new No-Idling Policy with Director enforcement

d.) Developed and rolled out Green Fleet Policy with Fleet Department

Better Buildings Challenge

At a July 11, 2012 event celebrating the installation of solar panels on the Knoxville Convention Center, Mayor Madeline Rogero announced the city of Knoxville's participation in the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge.

Knoxville is the first city in Tennessee to join the challenge, Rogero said. Also in Tennessee, Nissan North America has joined the challenge as an industrial partner. It has committed three plants to a goal of 25 percent improvement, including its new paint plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

The program asks community leaders -- including those in corporate, government and education positions -- to reduce their portfolio-wide energy use by 20 percent by 2020 and showcase the solutions they use and the results they achieve.

"By accepting the Better Buildings Challenge, Knoxville is leading by example," said Susanna Sutherland, manager of the City's Office of Sustainability. "This is an important step toward a sustainable future for the City and the region."

The city's goal under the program is to improve energy efficiency in more than 2 million square feet of its public buildings by 2020. City Council approved the City's participation in the program last month.

Another key part of the project involves sharing implementation successes and challenges with the community. Knoxville is already working on energy efficiency as part of its contract with energy-services company Ameresco. The company develped an energy efficiency plan for 99 of the city's public buildings and other facilities, including the installation of the convention center's solar array.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Earth Hour 2012 and General Savings Update

The City is pleased to partner with the University of Tennessee to participate in Earth Hour 2012. We are turning off all of the lights on floors 1-6 of the City County Building and the decorative lights on the cascade at World’s Fair Park along Cumberland Ave. from 8:30-9:30 on Saturday March 31st (Earth Hour).

The University of Tennessee will be turning off lights at Ayres Hall and Pendergrass Library. They are also working with students in the dormitories to turn individual room lights off during this time.

Independent of Earth Hour activities, the City of Knoxville has an energy savings performance contract with Ameresco. The contract is a $19 million, 13 year contract to upgrade 99 of the city’s buildings and most of the city’s parks and parking lots. The City will save at least $1.1 million annually for the next thirteen years. Because of this contract, for which construction is almost complete, the City will conserve 11.8 million kilowatt hours, 59,950 therms of natural gas, and 54 million gallons of water each and every year.

In addition to the Ameresco contract, the City has upgraded HVAC systems at 12 fire stations, recycled over 4,000 tons of curbside waste since September, 2011, and installed nearly 125 kW of solar energy.

The City is a participant in the EV Project and will be installating nearly 30 electric vehicle charging stations and two more solar arrays. Our Green Rebate Incentive Program provided rebates to home, business and non-profit owners who purchased energy star appliances or installed solar on their facilities. That program finishes April 2. Our focus this year lies in policy changes at the city-level and upgrading the building codes.

We are proud to be a participant in this year’s Earth Hour and are looking forward to another year of reducing our City’s energy use and improving livability.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

2012 Update


Happy 2012! During the elections of late 2011, we focused attention on the last items in our federal grants, on building a Southeastern City Sustainability Network, and on Work Plan items not requiring funds. Just wanted to give you a brief hello and some updates:

- Our Appliance and Solar Rebate Program still has over $100,000 left. If you live in City limits and haven't considered applying, please do as we need to spend this grant by July;
- We are 70% complete with our DOE funded activities, with only the rebate program and solar installation remaining;
- The design phase for the 90 kW third party financed system is wrapping up and goes on the Convention Center roof this spring;
- The City's Energy Performance Contract is 100% complete with construction as of this month, and is moving into the measurement and verification stage;
- The electric vehicle contracts (10 solar powered stations with ORNL and up to 38 non-solar charging stations with ECOtality) have both been executed and are awaiting notice to proceed from each entity;
- Zipcar was deemed most qualified in the bidding process for the car share program, and that contract is being negotiated currently by TPO, UTK, and the City;
- The single stream curbside recycling program hit the initial goal of 20,000 participants, and over 2,200 tons were recycled in the first 3 months of that program;
- With the State of TN, the TN Solar Institute, Memphis, and Nashville, we applied for and received the DOE SunShot Grant, which builds on efforts from the Solar America Cities grant of 2009;
- We applied for the 2012 Siemens Sustainable Community award, and are applying for a 2012 Urban Sustainability Directors Network Innovation Grant to explore funding mechanisms with partner cities;
- We have partnered with UTK on a 2012 NSF grant application to develop solar fiber technology; and
- We plan to apply for the new TDEC grants, which are due March 30th and open to all sectors for energy related projects up to $250,000.

Also of note:

- PlanET's next meeting is Feb. 2nd at 10 AM at the East TN History Center
- LightWave Solar is hiring for a consulting position in middle TN