An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

June 2010 Archives

The city of Nashville will be launching a pilot bike share program, starting with a fleet of 30 bikes and expanding to thousands of bikes citywide by next spring., The Tennessean reports.

Money for the program comes in the form of a $300,000 investment, taken from a multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

The city has built two pilot bike stations where residents will be able to borrow a bike after providing some information.

Also in the works is a series of automated solar-powered bike racks around town that participants could access with a swipe of a card once they registered for the program.

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Sharp Manufacturing Co. of America in Memphis produced its 2 millionth solar panel Tuesday, Toby Sells of the Commercial Appeal reports.

International, national, state and local leaders gathered at the Sharp factory on Mendenhall Tuesday morning to witness the production milestone.

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"To put this into perspective for you, the factory has produced enough solar panels to power 65,000 average-sized homes," Sharp Electronics Corp. CEO Kozo Takahashi said. "That's nearly a quarter of the homes in Memphis, and it saves nearly 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year."

The factory has produced residential and commercial solar panels in Memphis since 2003.

Read more at The Commercial Appeal.


Photo: Renisha Williams (left) and Lavonzella Redwood box up a set
of solar panels at Sharp's Memphis plant




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Lenoir City-based Click Funeral Home is working to make end-of-life arrangements more sustainable with services that reduce the environmental impact of burial.

wash.jpg The 45-year-old company recently became the first and only funeral provider in Tennessee to be accredited by the Green Burial Council, the authority on green practices in the industry. Requirements include the use of natural cooling, nontoxic approved chemicals and offering environmentally-friendly products, among others.

The company has invested in green options including: natural alternatives to embalming, hand made caskets produced locally without finishes and shrouds made of natural fibers.  Recyclable paper items for cards and guest registry are also offered.
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Sevierville's daily paper, The Mountain Press, reports a planned 14-mile greenway for Gatlinburg passed its final hearing last week, but city officials must now find an estimated $14 million in funding for the project.

Most state grants for greenways projects are between $300,000 and $700,000, with local governments paying 20 percent of the amount. However, because of rising community interest, securing grant awards is becoming harder.

Consulting engineer Steve Fritts presented the final master plan, which proposes building the trail in 13 smaller increments. When finished, the pieces would create a connected, paved path beside roads, streams and through some wooded areas that would stretch from the Glades area to downtown Gatlinburg.

See the full project proposal at The Mountain Press.


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Federal stimulus dollars to encourage energy-efficiency finally roll into Tennessee this week as the state launches a rebate program for Energy Star-certified heating and cooling systems.

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Anne Paine of the Tennessean reports the Nebraska and Tennessee are the last states to take advantage of the money and will offer fewew options than many other states on what appliances qualify for rebates.

In Tennessee, $250 rebates will be offered for qualified central heating and cooling systems and also for air-source heat pumps; $150 rebates will go for gas furnaces; and $40 for room air conditioners, a rebate that can be used by a renter or homeowner.

More details at The Tennessean.

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East Tennessee is getting ready for the arrival of electric cars by developing the public infrastructure to support their operation through what the city of Knoxville characterizes as "an ambitious program called the EV Project."

Representatives from the City of Knoxville, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville Utilities Board, Tennessee Valley Authority and Knox County have been working with ECOtality to determine where to locate roughly 350 publicly-accessible charging stations in Knoxville and the surrounding area - including 10 solar-powered stations in downtown Knoxville, according to a city news release.

Sites being considered downtown include the Market Square, Coliseum and State Street garages.

Knoxville, Nashville and Chattanooga are all test markets for the Nissan LEAF and the charging infrastructure, along with Washington D.C. and a handful of cities in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and California.

For more information about the EV Project, or to participate in the project, see www.theevproject.com.

Interested in learning more about the Nissan LEAF or how to buy one? Check out Nissan's dedicated LEAF site.

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Update: The News Sentinel reports that TVA is reversing its decision and resuming new enrollments in its Generation Partners pilot project to encourage renewable energy use throughout its service territory after being criticized by area alternative energy contractors.

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In a recent News Sentinel column, business writer Larisa Brass reports that TVA has frozen new applications to its Generation Partners program, prompting concern among industry representatives.

She reports about 40 industry representatives joined a quickly arranged phone call Friday to discuss TVA's decision, which froze new applications to the alternative energy program and put in limbo a number of local solar projects.

TVA has agreed to meet with solar companies today prior to a meeting in which the agency and its distributors will discuss how to restart the program. TVA said an influx of applications has put the pilot program at risk of exceeding a 200-megawatt, $50 million limit for such initiatives.

The Generation Partners program lets TVA customer receive credits for electricity generated by sun, wind or biomass. Many customers have chosen solar systems, which are eligible for state and federal grants.




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Officials from the state's Department of Labor and Workforce Development say Tennessee is one of the first states in the nation to conduct a comprehensive business survey to identify green jobs.

This month the Department of Labor will mail more than 6,000 surveys to Tennessee employers, according to a press release. The surveys focus on economic activity in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries as well as identify occupations and skill requirements within those industries.

Last November the Department of Labor and Workforce Development was awarded the $765,000 Tennessee Recovery Act Labor Market Information Improvement Grant to collect and disseminate data on the state's growing green economy.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Labor Market Information Director Joe Cummings stresses the importance for businesses to complete the brief questionnaire. "For this information to be reliable, we need as many employers to participate as possible. Data obtained from the survey will assist workforce policy makers in determining appropriate training for the provision of a skilled workforce to support Tennessee's expanding green businesses."

Survey results will be published early next year. For more information visit TN.gov.


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Hospitality industry goes green

The Tennessee Hospitality Association is making the Tennessee Green Hospitality certification program available statewide, TnHA officials announced last week.

The program, which which encourages hospitality and restaurant facilities to reduce their carbon footprint and increase sustainability, was adopted from the "Chattanooga Green Lodging" program, which has been recognized as a national model for sustainable tourism planning and received the Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award for Excellence in Pollution Prevention.

News Sentinel business writer Larisa Brass wrote about the program, including a look at certification efforts by the Double Tree Hotel in Chattanooga in a recent column.

For certification, hotels must have active programs in place for recycling and reductions in energy, water and materials usage; have an optional linen program; provide "green events" programs; and have a plan for continued improvement.

Requirements for restaurants are similar except for the linen service program.

Certification under the program requires a third-party audit, currently conducted by Skye Con, an environmental consulting company.

More information about the program, including an application can be found at www.tennesseegreenhospitality.com.

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Alstom invests in LEED

Paris, France-based Alstom will invest an additional $20 million in its new Chattanooga facility, in part to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that the company is installing dozens of skylights, a system to capture rainwater run-off for irrigation and using 2-inch thick insulated siding in its bid to received the LEED Gold designation.

Old concrete building slabs are also being recycled into crushed concrete, which is used as road foundation on the site.

To learn more about the project, see the complete Times Free Press coverage.

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While doing a little research on green incentives I came across a helpful new-to-me site: the DSIRE SOLAR database.

According to the site, DSIRE is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility and federal incentives and policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995 and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the N.C. Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Especially helpful is the database search function, which can be narrowed by location, sector or type of incentive among others.

There's also a handy list of new incentives added to the site in the past two months -- helpful for keeping on top of new developments.

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Renovations make hotel greener

Property Scope blogger Josh Flory recently took a tour of the Holiday Inn Select downtown which is undergoing an extensive remodeling by new owners lead by developer Nick Cazana.

Among the new features are a European-style energy-saving light and air system inside rooms and low-flow toilets that will result in an annual savings of 3 million gallons of water.

More details and photos of an updated room and the revamped lobby are available at The Property Scope.

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Larisa Brass reports on what's thought to be the largest residential solar array in East Tennessee -- a 14.28-kilowatt system installed at a West Knoxville home.

But the solar panels are just one element to the 1970s-era home's green makeover, which included a geothermal heat pump, insulation, lighting and other measures that resulted in reducing its energy consumption by 60 to 70 percent.

The homeowners, Edward and Lynda Primka, were able to take advantage of a 30 percent federal tax credit and a $1,000 TVA incentive.

To read more, visit Larisa's Connected column.


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