An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

April 2010 Archives

Nashville's daily paper takes a look at a variety of Tennessee solar installations that as quickly as they are announced become displaced as the "largest."

"The average size system we're seeing installed in the state has doubled, really tripled, even from a year ago," says solar installer Steve Johnson.

Read more in the Tennessean.

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UT sets climate neutral goal

The University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus released its first Climate Action Plan setting as a goal to make the campus carbon neutral in 50 years.

"If that sounds like a long time, it is," Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in announcing the plan. "The CAP is the definition of a living, breathing document. If we do our job right, the plan will change over time as new technologies become available and the face of our campus evolves."

The university is defining climate neutral, Cheek stated, as meaning that "in the process of going about our missions of teaching, research and service, the activities of our campus will either not emit greenhouse gases or will offset the emissions we produce."

Princeton Review recently highlighted several initiatives at UT in its "Guide to 286 Green Colleges."

The review took note of UT's student environmental initiative fee, which funded the purchase of 3,375 blocks of green power and its 2007 sustainable building policy that makes the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system the standard for all new construction and renovation projects exceeding $5 million. The Min Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building and the Student Health Center, currently are being built to LEED standards.

The university's climate plan is available online at the Make Orange Green Web site.

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The Knoxville Chamber surveyed Knox County mayoral candidates - only two replied - on 11 questions including how the county can "better seize the economic opportunities relating to renewable energy."

Sen. Tim Burchett, running in the Republican primary against former Sheriff Tim Hutchison, and Lewis Cosby, a CPA running as an independent, were the only two to fill out the questionnaire.

Burchett said renewable energy technologies should be a "core component" of Knox County's "economic development portfolio."

Cosby advised that the county should "stay on top of all energy developments in the near future, and be prepared to move swiftly once more hard facts are known..."

The Knoxville chamber has posted the candidates' complete responses. Hat tip to Roger Harris' Rants and Raves blog for the info.

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Sun powering storage units

Tillery Self-Storage is boasting Knoxville's largest commercial solar installation to date.

The seven solar arrays with 18 panels were pole mounted to generate 27,562 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.

Owner Ray Lahti was able to procure about 70 percent of the system's cost through federal and state grants, said David Bolt, founder of Sustainable Future, the system's installer.

Coupled with incentives under TVA's Generation Partners Program the business should see a return on investment in five to seven years, Bolt said.

More information and photos are available at the city of Knoxville's web site.

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Chris King is $10,000 closer to launching a bicycle delivery service for downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee. King, founder of Green Car & Courier, accepted the check Monday as the winner of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal's Business in the Green program.

King believes the service will provide businesses including law firms, banks and architectural firms a fast, money-saving environment friendly choice for courier services. He also hopes to work with a grocery store and restaurants to provide delivery services for their customers. People living and working downtown should expect to the see bicycles by this summer, he added.

In its third year, Business in the Green encourages businesses and nonprofit organizations to propose a green initiative that will have measurable results on their energy use, the environment and their operations, either saving their organization money or creating a new revenue stream.

Sponsors of Business in the Green are KUB, Thermocopy and Efficient Energy of Tennessee.

The award was announced Monday at the Knoxville Chamber's Earth Day A.M. Exchange attended by nearly 100 business representatives.

King founded Green Car & Courier in 2007, and has since grown his fleet to include two sedans, four vans, two shuttle buses and a limousine, all converted to run on biofuels, propane or natural case.

Also announced at the event was the relaunch of, a website that services as a resource and showcase for businesses seeking to become more environment friendly while also improving their bottom line.

More information about Business in the Green can be found in this month's Business Journal, which includes a special section highlighting local green products and services.

The section is also available in PDF format here: Business in the Green 2010.

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A new report co-authored by TVA board nominee Marilyn Brown touts energy efficiency as key to meeting the South's demand for energy over the next 230 years.

The report outlines recommended steps including building code improvements, appliance standards, expanding weatherization assistance, home and business retrofits, utility upgrades, industrial process improvements and the use of combined heat and power systems. It also touts the number of jobs that could be created by following those recommendations.

Read more at about the media briefing with Brown at and what Brown didn't say over at Larisa Brass' BizPlanet blog.

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Green Drinks celebrates Earth Day

Regas Restaurant is planning a special menu for the Green Drinks' Earth Day celebration that will include all seasonal ingredients grown within 180 miles of Knoxville.
Green Drinks is an informal gathering of individuals working on environmental issues and includes participants from business, academia, government and the nonprofit sector.
The month's gathering will be at 5 to 7 p.m. April 22. Find more information at Green Drinks Knoxville.

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Clayton Homes' i-house, a charitable retail outlet that sells unwanted building supplies and a research project focused on energy-efficient home construction will be among trend-setting East Tennessee projects featured on a television series premiering this summer.

"This New House," produced by some of the same principals behind PBS's "This Old House," will debut in July on DIY Network, housed at Scripps Networks West Knoxville production facility.

Larisa Brass reports on the new show and its East Tennessee episodes in her recent column in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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Chattanooga cleans up its image

Twenty-five years ago, residents and businesses were fleeing a smoggy Chattanooga. That trend has since been reversed, and Chattanooga appears to be ahead of the pack to recover from the Great Recession thanks to big investments in energy and automobile manufacturing.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press takes a look at Chattanooga's transformation to an attractive riverfront city where young entrepreneurs, retirees and new businesses are staking their claim. Read the first article in the series at the Times Free Press.

Nantahala Outdoor Center Inc.'s desire to embrace green practices and pay homage to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park helped it to secure a sought-after site in Gatlinburg for a new retail outlet.

The $4 million, 18,000-square-foot NOC's Great Outpost is LEED certified, and preserved the former Open Hearth restaurant building, while the majority of the construction materials including wood and tin from the roof of an old Sevier County barn, came from within a 500-mile radius, reported Carly Harrington in the News Sentinel.

Developer Dave Ogle of Five Oaks/Ogle Inc. of Sevier County said several other potential tenants wanted to tear down the building on the site, which borders the national park, leading the firm to try to recruit Nantahala, which has long provided outdoor activities at the south side of the national park.

Read more about the store, where visitors can also book a variety of outdoor adventures from whitewater rafting to bicycling tours, at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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Fresh produce on tap


Several Farmers Markets are opening earlier this year, beginning April 16.

Larisa Brass has the skinny on when and where over at her BizPlanet blog. Larisa is also participating in community-supported agriculture (CSA) for the first time and discusses her first share of the bounty from a local farmer.

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Need a recycling bin?

As part of Alcoa's recently announced 50,000 recycling bin giveaway, residents of Knox and Blount counties will have several upcoming opportunities to pick up a free 22-gallon recycling bin.

Bins will be available at EarthFest in Knoxville on April 17 and Earth Round-Up in Blount County on April 24. In addition, Keep Blount Beautiful is hosting a bin distribution event on April 15 - Earth Day - in the municipal parking lot adjacent to the Daily Times. Stop by between 5 and 7 p.m. for your free bin.

More details on bin distribution are available at

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Solar installation primer

With so much news these days about Tennessee's solar industry - and spring's promise of warm, sunny days ahead - interest among business and homeowners in this alternative energy source is growing.

GoGreenET partner Harvey Abouleta of Efficient Energy of Tennessee, has written a primer to help folks decide if solar power is the right option for them.

The key to good-decision making, he says, is to evaluate (current energy usage), reduce (energy conservation) and then produce (alternative energy sources.) Harvey also provides a wealth of information on incentives, grants and other sources of funds to help defray costs.

Read "Buying a Solar System for Your Home or Business in Tennessee."

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