An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

August 2010 Archives

Mike Pare of the Chattanooga daily the Times Free Press reports that the city's tallest office building has earned the federal Energy Star designation for energy efficiency.

Republic Centre is the city's first private commercial office building in downtown Chattanooga to achieve the designation, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

Building owners estimate about $1.2 million was spent over ten years to bring the building up to the Energy Star standard. Data collection to qualify for the standard started a year ago.

Some of the energy efficient upgrades include:
A digital climate control system
Installation of thermal window film
Use of adjustable blinds
Switch to water-cooled chillers

Ronnie Williams, senior vice president of the Jim Berry Co., which owns the building, expects to save about $175,000 annually.

According to EPA listings, there are about 30 office buildings in Tennessee with the designation out of 100 total labeled facilities, including nine in Knoxville.

Read the full article at the Times Free Press.
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State officials hope a new $50 million Energy Efficiency Loan Program launched today will help companies cut costs and become more competitive by financing investments in energy efficient technology, energy retrofits and renewable energy systems.

"Controlling energy costs is a key business strategy for all Tennessee companies," said Commissioner Kisber of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development in a press release. "Helping those companies operate 'leaner' and 'greener' may help some businesses considering these types of investments to move forward."                                                               

The Energy Efficiency Loan Program is available to any business seeking to reduce energy consumption in their Tennessee facilities through building retrofits and upgrades, equipment replacement purchases or other energy efficiency or renewable energy projects. 

Businesses may apply online at www.pathwaylending.org with first round applications due by November 1, 2010.


Tennessee Solar Institute (TSI) announced late yesterday it is seeking grant applications for $14.5 million in incentives for solar innovation projects that encourage the development of Tennessee's solar industry. The Solar Innovation Grant Program is the second grant opportunity available through the $23.5 million Solar Opportunity Fund.

Solar Innovation grants are available to qualifying Tennessee solar industry firms seeking financial assistance to help strengthen their offerings to the solar industry as well as improve energy efficiency in their place of operations.

"The purpose of the Solar Innovation Grant Program is to advance Tennessee's competitive advantage in the solar industry," said Director of Programs for Tennessee Solar InstituteJohn Sanseverino, in a press release. "Reducing energy usage and increasing energy efficiency in the workplace is also a major emphasis of the program."

Eligible applicants include qualified for-profit firms, working in or seeking to expand business in the solar industry in Tennessee. To apply, a business must submit a proposal defining how grant funds will be used to advance the solar industry through various process improvements and/or training opportunities.

Applicants with approved proposals may be awarded up to $500,000 in grant funds, depending on project category. 





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Tennessee's  Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program will open tomorrow, Aug. 24 at noon CDT, state officials announced today.  Rebates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for qualifying Energy Star heating and cooling appliances, funded out of $5.9 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. 

"Assisting Tennesseans in purchasing Energy Star heating and cooling units will help people reduce their energy usage and lower their utility bills, while also having a positive impact on our environment," said Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Matt Kisber. "The Rebate Program is a welcome step in the right direction for our state's future energy conservation initiatives."

Eligible appliances include air source heat pumps, central air conditioners, gas furnaces and room air conditioners with the Energy Star designation. A rebate of $250 will be available for the air source heat pumps and central air conditioners, a rebate of $150 will be available for gas furnaces, and a rebate of $40 will be available for room air conditioners. Purchases made on or after April 22, 2010 will be eligible for the rebate.

Applications will be available online at www.e-rebates.org/teearp or by phone at 1-877-741-4304. 


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SJF Advisory Services will present the second annual Summit on the New Green Economy September 14-15 at the Durham Convention Center in Durham, NC.

According to SJF, this year's event will focus on Accelerating Growth and Impact.

Confirmed keynote speakers include Bruce Kahn, Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors, Dr. Robert Wallace, BITHENERGY, Bruce Usher, Columbia Business School, and David Orr, Oberlin.

The Summit will also feature national speakers, a central Cleantech CEO Panel, business and community success stories, tips on developing key strategic partnerships, structured networking, and practical strategies attendees can implement in their own businesses and communities.


Registration is $245 for nonprofits, government or students. Standard rate is $325. Register by the end of the day Friday for special lodging rates.

More information, including a full agenda and online registration is available at the Summit homepage.
The Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported yesterday that officials in the Greater Memphis area hope to position Memphis and the Mid-South as an electric vehicle hub y convincing Congress to locate one 15 demonstration sites for electric vehicles soon to be chosen for the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act in the area.

According to the article by writer Wayne Risher, the Mid-South CHARGE (Council to Help Advance the Regional Growth of Electrification) organization touts Memphis as a global logistics hub "uniquely positioned to take advantage of this opportunity."

In letters Tuesday to congressional delegations, the council wrote, "(T)he Mid-South is well-prepared, willing and eager to adopt electric vehicles once laws are in place to make their development, purchase and regular use more attainable."

The Promoting Electric Vehicles Act is under review by House and Senate committees. Deployment communities would be chosen from competitive applications, and grants would help them develop charging stations, offer consumer incentives and shift government fleets to plug-in electric vehicles.

Read the full article at the Commercial Appeal.

Memphis is also home to FedEx Corp., whose CEO Fred Smith has previously testified before Congress in support of electric vehicles and the Promoting Electric Vehicles Act.

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Smart Trips, the regional organization that promotes alternatives to driving alone, will hold its first annual Clean Commute Day on Friday, August 20, 2010.

Organizers hope to encourage at least 10,000 people to carpool, bicycle, take the bus or walk to work that day, which they say would remove more than 200,000 pounds of pollution from the air.

An online pledge form has been set up to track participation, or those interested can register for Smart Trips and log their Clean Commute there. Both can be found at www.knoxsmarttrips.org.

Smart Trips' mission is to improve air quality and ease traffic congestion. The program rewards participants for choosing green commuting options and works with regional employers to develop customized worksite programs.
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Another East Tennessee small business has embraced solar, installing a system of 192 solar panels, partly offsetting costs with grants from local, state and federal programs.

Tom Moore recently installed the panels on 8,000 square feet of the roof of his Trucks 'N Trailers USA business in Chattanooga, reports Brittany Cofer in the Chattanooga daily Times Free Press.

Moore estimated the investment was about $240,000 and should offset the trucking accessory company's power costs by $12,000 to $14,000 in the first year.

Some funding for the project came from the state government's Clean Energy Technology Grant Program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a $1,000 incentive from the Tennessee Valley Authority for becoming a Green Power Switch generation partner, lowering cost by about 60 to 70 percent, Moore estimates.

Read more about Moore's experiences with the system at the Times Free Press.
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The state's largest solar power system made its official debut today with the help of an array of local officials touting the benefits of the sweltering August sun.

Set on five acres in East Knox County, the installation produces one megawatt of electricity, enough to power about 125 homes.

The site will also serve as a demonstration and education site for solar technology and help TVA and researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory get a sense for solar's potential in this part of the country

The array, made up of 4,608 solar panels, was built by the Natural Energy Group in partnership with Efficient Energy of Tennessee, both Knoxville companies with common ownership.

More than 150 representatives from industry, education, government and research institutions attended the event. The system represents a step forward in the state's budding solar industry, speakers said.


News Sentinel writer Larisa Brass covered the event. Read her full article at Knoxvillebiz.





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July marked the first full year of data collection at TVA's energy efficient homes project at Campbell Creek subdivision in Knox County. And despite a year of temperature extremes, the project has seen significant energy savings, according to the utility.

The first year data showed that in hotter periods such as this June, the advanced house uses only about half the energy of the retrofit house and less than a third compared to the standard house.

"Power bills for the most energy efficient of the three houses totaled less than $450 for the entire year," Project Manager David Dinse said. "That averages out to about $37 per month for a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath house."

The upgraded homes use products including solar panels, super-efficient materials and better insulation.

Bob Fowler reports in Sunday's News Sentinel that seven Anderson County government buildings are being upgraded in various ways to save energy and become more environmentally sustainable.

While it's costing the county $2.3 million, the improvements will more than pay for themselves, guarantees a spokesman for the company doing the work.

Some measures being implemented:
Rainwater is being captured to wash county vehicles; Hundreds of brighter lights that use less power, and toilets and faucets that use less water are being installed; Cracks are being caulked, heating units upgraded, and solar panels are being hooked up.
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VW investigating more green options

Mike Pare at the Chattanooga daily Times Free Press reports that Volkswagen is working with the city to use methane gas from the Summit landfill to produce electricity for its plant.

The methane, naturally occurring at the closed landfill, would be mined, fed to generators at the Summit site, turned into electricity and transmitted to the plant, City officials say.

For VW, the initiative's use of renewable energy will earn the car maker points toward the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design status it is seeking for the Chattanooga assembly plant.

The site would be the South's first auto assembly plant and only the second nationally to gain the LEED badge, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.


Read more at the Times Free Press

Knoxville Area Transit's new LEED-certified Knoxville Station Transit Center is over 90% complete and KAT plans to celebrate the upcoming grand opening with several public events.

On Friday, August 6, from 5-8 p.m. KAT will host a First Friday open house at the center, 301 Church Avenue.  The architecture and environmental features of the facility will be discussed by the project's lead architect. The Grand Opening Art Exhibition, a juried exhibition featuring a variety of artists, will also be available.

---For those looking to meet up with other green-minded individuals, local green-interest group Green Drinks Knoxville plans to hold its meeting in conjunction with the event, beginning at 6 p.m.


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Share your thoughts, ask questions and let us know your latest green news and achievements at http://www.facebook.com/GoGreenET.

One megawatt solar station complete

Early last month Natural Energy Group began installing solar panels on the first one megawatt solar station in Tennessee. It was the largest project of its kind in the state at the time and the first utility-scale project, according to Efficient Energy of Tennessee. The project took almost three months to complete and was in the planning stages for 18 months.

Last week, Efficient Energy of Tennessee, which is associated with Natural Energy Group, announced that the project is finished. A ribbon cutting will be held August 12 at Natural Energy Group in Knoxville. More information on the event can be found at the EETN website.

A slideshow of the construction process is available on gosolar.
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