An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

June 2011 Archives

East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition has partnered with the Department of Energy Clean Cities program to present a "Fuel Economy & Idle Reduction" seminar 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on July 13 at the Holiday Inn Cedar Bluff.

Government and industry organization speakers will discuss the Clean Cities program, fuel economy, idle reduction practices and options, fuel efficient vehicles and vehicle fleet GPS systems and benefits.

Registration is $15 and includes lunch.  To register or for more information, call 865-974-9665.

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The Holiday Inn Worlds Fair Park is the first full service Knoxville hotel to earn the Tennessee Green Hospitality Designation recognizing sustainable practices from the Tennessee Hospitality Association.

"Since day one of the renovations we have pushed forward to make this hotel as energy conscious as possible.  Whether it is recycling in the restaurant or low-flow toilets in the bathrooms we want to part of this movement," says Michael Parisi, the hotel's general manager.

Renovations on the Holiday Inn Worlds Fair Park started 18 months ago and will be completed this summer.

The hotel previously received GoGreen's Energy Efficiency Award in this year's Business Recognition Program.

Two reports released Thursday point to increased demand for green jobs in Tennessee.

The studies, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, identify the number of green jobs in Tennessee in 2010, expected vacancies in the companies surveyed, and additional jobs created through 2014 by Tennessee's $5.5 billion in investments in the green economy.

The first study, "Green Jobs in Tennessee: Economic Impact of Selected Green Investments in Tennessee" looked at the impact of industries in the state investing in green energy and creating jobs, including Hemlock Semiconductor; Wacker Chemie AG; Volkswagen; Nissan Leaf and Storage Battery Manufacturing; Tennessee Solar Institute and West Tennessee Solar Farm; and eTec Battery Charging Stations.

The report was created by researchers at Middle Tennessee State University's Business and Economic Research Center in partnership with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

"While many states have been struggling to add new manufacturing jobs, these six green investments in Tennessee have the potential to reverse trends in the state's manufacturing employment by boosting the job market with nearly 10,000 construction jobs and 17,000 manufacturing jobs," said Dr. Murat Arik, Associate Director for the BERC.

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Originally announced in 2009, followed by the announcement of a Tennessee electrification "corridor" in 2010, ECOtality's EV Project is finally underway, reports Laura Vela in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

One program participant, John Craig, received his Nissan Leaf last month and uses it to commute from the Loudon County area to his job in downtown Knoxville.

While running out of charge hasn't been a concern, Craig says he is excited about the installation of public charging stations.

The commercial implementation of those stations began last week when the company dedicated several charging stations June 13 at the Loews Hotel in Nashville.

ECOtality stated that more information specific to the Knoxville-area chargers will be released later this summer.

"Our focus up until recently has been on the residential. ... We would like to keep the conversation on the statewide basis and within the next couple weeks have more news for Knoxville," said Stephanie Cox, Tennessee-area manager at ECOtality.

Read more about the EV Project at the Knoxville News Sentinel.
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Last week, the U.S. Senate voted to repeal billions of dollars in annual ethanol subsidies, including the 45-cent credit to oil refiners adding ethanol to gasoline and the 54-cent tariff on ethanol imports.

Business writer Hugh Willet highlighted projects in East Tennessee that would be affected if the measure is passed by Congress in the daily Knoxville News Sentinel.

Ethanol is made from corn and other biomass materials such as switchgrass. The University of Tennessee's Department of Agriculture has been working with private industry and local farmers to promote the commercially viable production of ethanol.

Genera Energy LLC, formed in 2008 and wholly owned by the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, plays a key role in implementing the University of Tennessee's Biofuels Initiative, a $70.5 million state investment in developing a cellulosic biofuels industry.

The company has partnered with DuPont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol to build and operate a small-scale cellulosic ethanol biorefinery in Vonore, Tenn., using local switchgrass.

Read more about biofuel production projects in Tennessee at the News Sentinel website.

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Eco Travel Plaza in Crossville, Tenn. will unveil its energy efficient remodel next week.

The Eco Travel Plaza, in partnership with the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, has implemented or is planning up to 40 total initiatives to increase the site's overall energy efficiency, and provide cleaner, healthier options. Emissions reductions and eliminating unnecessary diesel fuel use are key parts of the effort.

The site received a $580,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2009 to install Truck Stop Electrification equipment from two vendors at its parking spots, reducing engine idling. The center will use a 35kw solar system to offset some of the costs.

"With the EPA grant we had an opportunity, but we wanted to be more creative. We chose to add to the benefits of anti-idling technology by further reduce emissions by replacing grid electricity with solar. Then we sought to save other energy usage by replacing inefficient equipment. ... Our goal now is to further reduce our energy footprint, and become energy neutral," said Don Demko, Eco Travel Plaza owner.

In addition to the TSE equipment and solar system, other initiatives include:

LED exterior lights and energy efficient indoor lighting and HVAC
Automatic shut-off faucets, waterless urinals and water pressure reducers
Recycling of paper, glass, plastics onsite and recycling used cooking oil for biodiesel production
Power Controller to reduce electricity use and peak demand

Two electric vehicle DC Fast Charge stations and an electronics recycling center are also planned.
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ECOtality representatives and state officials gathered in Nashville today to officially dedicate the company's Blink Pedestal charging stations in Tennessee along with the installation of four public charging stations at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. The hotel is the first commercial partner in the city to install a charger.

"As the future home of the Nissan Leaf, Middle Tennessee is positioned to be a leader in the electric vehicle industry," said Karl Dean, Mayor of Nashville. "We are proud to be one of a very select group of U.S. communities to have a critical mass of publicly accessible EV charging infrastructure."

ECOtality began installations of its Blink Level 2 Wall Mount charging stations in EV Project regions nationwide last December, and has since installed more than 1,200 commercial and residential chargers. It plans to deploy approximately 2,500 residential, commercial and DC fast charging stations in Tennessee by the end of the year.

The EV Project, managed by ECOtality and funded by the Department of Energy through stimulus grants, will provide an electric vehicle infrastructure to support the deployment of 8,300 vehicles.

"Tennessee is one of the original pilot launch markets for The EV Project and has the largest geographic footprint of any EV Project area," said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. "We are on track to electrify more than 500 miles of EV freeway throughout Tennessee."

The company said anyone will be able to charge at Blink charging stations using a Blink InCard and it also offers a membership program. For more information visit the Blink Network website.

ECOtality is currently in discussions with property owners for installations of public charging stations. Last year, Cracker Barrel announced it would install charging stations in 24 Tennessee locations as part of the project.  Some national retailers are also on board, including Sears, Fred Meyer, Macy's, BP/Arco, and Best Buy.

Businesses in the state of Tennessee interested in hosting Blink charging stations should contact Stephanie Cox, Tennessee Area Manager at ECOtality, at or 615.504.4928.

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A daylong Natural Gas Vehicle Workshop focusing on the potential benefits of natural gas vehicles in large fleet operations will be held from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., Wednesday, June 15, at the University of Tennessee's Conference Center Building.

"The Compelling Case for Natural Gas Vehicles" Fleet Workshop is designed for public and private fleet managers and for clean air/clean transportation policymakers.

Scheduled topics include:

--Which applications are best for NGV programs
--Different types of vehicles available and their roles  
--Information about federal and state tax incentives, fuel costs and savings.

There will also be a presentation by managers who already operating natural gas vehicles in their fleets.

"This is a great way to get the latest information about natural gas vehicles; what options are available if you are a fleet director," said Jake Tisinger, the city's sustainability coordinator. "It will cover the incentives that are out there, help calculate the return on investment and there will be presentations concerning which vehicles are best suited for various tasks. It will give everyone a comprehensive look at these vehicles and the opportunities they present."

The workshop costs $45 until June 10 and $55 afterwards, which includes all course materials, a continental breakfast, lunch and refreshments.

For a full agenda or to register visit

The event is being co-hosted by several organizations including East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition and the City of Knoxville.

Other co-hosts of the workshop are the Clean Vehicle Education Foundation, Clean Cities of Middle Tennessee, Clean Fuels Coalition of West Tennessee, Tennessee Gas Association and the Land-of-Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition.
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Unlike adding a bathroom or fixing up a kitchen, there's no equity value attached to home energy efficiency improvements -- yet. 

In this month's Greater Knoxville Business Journal, writer Larisa Brass looks at a proposed national energy rating program that aims to change that. The initiative will get a trial run with the help of two local institutions and homeowners in a neighboring state.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is partnering with TVA to carry out a pilot project that will test the rating program, announced by Vice President Joe Biden last fall.

The project, funded by the Department of Energy with in-kind support from TVA, will assist in extensive energy retrofits on 100 Kentucky homes, according to ORNL researcher Jeff Christian, who is coordinating the project.

The lab will utilize a program from TVA and the Kentucky Housing Corp., which combines TVA's existing home energy evaluation program -- offering home energy audits and rebates for some improvements -- with a a Kentucky program that provides up to $2,000 in rebates or up to $20,000 in low-interest, unsecured loans. The program aims to achieve at least 20 percent energy savings for participating homeowners.

Read more about the new home energy rating project at knoxvillebiz.
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The Downtown Knoxville Hampton Inn and Suites has received a Green Lodging designation from the Tennessee Hospitality Association, reports Mike Blackerby in the daily Knoxville News Sentinel.

It is the first hotel in Knoxville to receive the recognition as part of the Tennessee Hospitality Association's Tennessee Green Hospitality certification program.

Hampton General Manager Anita Lane said the environmental measures the hotel implemented mean a smaller carbon footprint and reduced bottom-line costs for the facility.

To qualify for its Tennessee green lodging certification, the Hampton began an environmental revamp in 2008 to better conserve energy, protect air quality and reduce water consumption and waste. Lane estimates $15,000 to $20,000 was spent on the project.

The hotel also embarked on a recycling program, and now uses biodegradable laundry products and biodegradable cups, plates and eating utensils.

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The University of Tennessee will partner with the Knoxville Utilities Board and the Tennessee Valley Authority's EnergyRight Solutions for Business program to create a 10-year strategic energy roadmap for its Knoxville campus, setting targets for electricity demand reduction and annual energy savings.

TVA will conduct training for campus energy managers, recommend systems to measure energy performance of campus buildings, develop peak and minimum load management strategies and help implement best practices for communicating energy efficiency efforts.

"We look forward to working with TVA and KUB on a 10-year energy management plan to enhance our energy and cost reduction efforts and lessen the overall impact of our operations," UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. "Our students, faculty and staff have made UT a national leader in campus sustainability and this project will enhance our efforts and serve as a model for other colleges and universities."

The project's first phase is expected to be complete by fall 2011, officials say.

UT Knoxville is one of the largest green power purchasers in the Southeast. In 2005, students approved a special fee to fund green energy purchases and other sustainable initiatives. Since 2006, the campus' Make Orange Green program -- a joint effort of several departments -- has coordinated environmental activities within all areas of campus. Campus efforts since 2008 to reduce overall energy consumption are saving more than $1 million a year on utility bills.
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