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August 2011 Archives

UT's Solar Decathlon participants, Team Living Light, will host an open house Monday for the community to view its completed energy-efficient house for the U.S. Department of Energy's 2011 contest.

The open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. at 5372 Middlebrook Pike, Knoxville. Students will provide tours of the home and answer questions about the project. For directions visit the Living Light website.

The home will be taken to Washington, DC for display and contest participation in September.

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive.

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University of Tennessee students and faculty from multiple departments and disciplines have worked since 2008 to design and build a model home to showcase cutting edge sustainable building practices.

Now, thanks to their work -- along with multiple grants from local, state and federal partners -- and partnership with Clayton Homes, the test home is complete. The project was estimated to cost $300,000 to $400,000, said Matt Lyle, a former research assistant on the project, although future homes would cost less than the prototype.

The home's first occupants, Mary Leverance, a UT graduate student, and her husband, Ken McCown, chair of the landscape architecture department, moved into the 750-square-foot house in July, reports Megan Boehnke in the Knoxville News Sentinel. A team of students will monitor their energy and water use to evaluate the effectiveness of green technology used in the home. Tours of the home will be available next month.

Features include:
floors made of sustainable materials,
efficient appliances,
solar panels to heat water
a rain water collection system

The team is also seeking LEED Platinum status on the home.

Once the project is complete, the home will be sold and funds from the sale will go to fund other similar projects.

For more information about the project as well as a blog from the residents, visit A New Norris House.

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Confluence Solar's plans to build a $200 million solar plant in Clinton, Tenn. have been sidelined after the company's buyout by GT Advanced Technologies, a New Hampshire-based solar technology firm.

GT Advanced Technologies purchased Confluence for its technological expertise and not its manufacturing plans, reports Bob Fowler in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Instead of a production plant, the company now plans to develop a research testing facility near Confluence headquarters in Missouri.

Confluence Solar's plans in Clinton, announced last year, included a 200,000-square-foot plant and the possibility of 250 jobs at the Clinton Interstate 75 industrial park. Now, city officials say the proposed site will be put back on the market.

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As part of a forum on rural economics Tuesday, University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro got a chance to discuss the potential of switchgrass as a biofuel with the White House administration.

The event, at Northeast Iowa Community College, was part of President Barack Obama's Midwest bus tour.

DiPietro participated in a breakout session on renewable energy and agriculture led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. DiPietro pushed the idea of introducing a new commodity in the marketplace -- in Tennessee's case, switchgrass -- and the ability to build a new industry and generate new jobs, reports Megan Boehnke in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The switchgrass program still is in the demonstration phase, but with more help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it could more easily expand into commercial phase, DiPietro said. 

Genera Energy and Dupont Danisco currently partner on a demonstration biofuel refinery in Vonore, Tenn.

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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, one-third of the energy used in the United States in 2009 was consumed in five States: Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

The organization's State Energy Data System includes estimates of energy production, consumption, prices, and expenditures broken down by energy source and sector for each of the 50 states.

The United States used 94,445.9 trillion Btu of energy in 2009, more than doubling since 1960, the first year covered in this year's report.

Tennessee ranked 15th in total energy consumption for 2009, using 2136.0 trillion Btu or 2.3 percent of the nation's total. The state used 2.1 percent of national energy in 1960.
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Renewable energy use in the United States:
Geothermal - increased from 2 trillion btu in 1965 to 200 trillion btu in 2009
Solar - increased from 55 trillion btu in 1989 to 98 trillion btu in 2009
Wind - increased from 22 trillion btu in 1989 to 721 trillion btu in 2009
Fuel Ethanol - increased from 7 million btu in 1981 to 910 trillion btu in 2009

Renewable energy use in Tennessee
Most renewable use in Tennessee ranges from 0.1 trillion btu to 0.5 trillion btu. However, fuel ethanol has
had some ups and downs. Peaking at 4.9 trillion btu in 1988, the fuel fell steadily to 0 until jumping to 11.9 trillion btu in 2005. From there, it climbed to 26.4 trillion btu in 2009.

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Residents interested in the city of Knoxville's new recycling program have until August 14 to sign up if they want to be among the first participants to receive a recycling cart.

The first group will start receiving carts the week of August 29 through September 16.

Households will be able to sign up after the deadline but the city expects carts to be delivered and service to start for these sign-ups in the late fall.

"We are pushing for as many early registrations for the program as possible," says David Brace, deputy director of public service. "The more carts we can deliver in the first round, the faster we start diverting material from the landfill."

Customers can recycle plastics, metal, glass and paper/cardboard. Officials estimate 75 percent to 80 percent of household waste in Knoxville is recyclable.

Currently 16,485 households have signed up for the program -- that's out of the initial 20,000 spaces available.

Sign up through the city's online city services portal or call 311. Questions? Email
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