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.