An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

March 2012 Archives

Volkswagen will spend about $30 million to build a 9.5 MW solar power facility next to its Chattanooga plant. 

The solar park will supply more than 12 percent of the factory's power and be one of the largest solar facilities in the state, reports Mike Pare in Chattanooga's Times Free Press daily. 

VW executives add it will be one of the largest private solar facilities in the region and the largest such project for the company worldwide.

According to Volkswagen, two companies will build and run the plant -- Phoenix Solar, a German business with U.S. headquarters in California, and Silicon Ranch Corp., which is based in Nashville.

Plans for the solar generation contributed to VW's LEED rating for the Chattanooga site.
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Education around East Tennessee is getting a little greener on both the inside -- through student programs -- and on the outside -- including upgrades to campus buildings and equipment.

Maryville College received a STARS Bronze Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements in January of this year.

In February, several area high schools and elementary schools were recognized by the East Tennessee chapter of the US Green Building Council at the High Performance + Healthy Schools Symposium.

The recipients included the Knox County Schools in the Outstanding School District category; Oak Ridge High School and White Pine Elementary School for Outstanding School; E.L. Ross Elementary School for Outstanding School Group; and Johnson City Power Board for Community Outreach.

According to a Department of Energy report, has the second highest number of electric vehicle charging stations in Tennessee, behind Nashville, but ahead of Memphis and Chattanooga.

Between March and December 2011, Knoxville drivers charged up more than 7,100 times -- twice as many as in Chattanooga.

And 28 more charging stations are expected in Knoxville by June, including 10 solar charging stations in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, says Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Gerald Witt in a recent article.

Knoxville businesses such as Cracker Barrel , Three Rivers Market, the Crowne Plaza hotel and others already have stations available for customers.

The growth is fueled by a $99.8 million grant from DOE to ECOtality to install charging sites. Knoxville is one of four cities in Tennessee and one of 18 in the country to benefit from the money.

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Local researcher Catherine Wilt is working to make toys healthier, safer and more environmentally-friendly. 

Wilt, director of the Center for Clean Products at the University of Tennessee, helped develop North America's first and only third-party environmental toy standard, UL 172 for manufacturers. The voluntary certification recognizes companies which use safer chemicals and healthier, more environmentally-preferable materials in toys. 

UL 172, administered by UL Environment, a subsidiary of Underwriters Laboratories, is applicable to play products made from wood, plastic, rubber, textiles, metal and bio-based materials--from balls and action figures to costume clothing and jewelry. 

"While there are standards addressing the safety of toys, such as choking hazards, there are no North American standards to address toxicity," Wilt said. "Toxic toy recalls in recent years have made consumers increasingly wary about the safety of toys. Certification to UL 172 will provide them with peace of mind while giving innovative manufacturers the credit they deserve." 

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were at least 45 toxic toy recalls between 2008 and 2011. All 45 recalls involved toys that were manufactured outside the U.S. While a North American organization manages UL 172, any toy manufacturer in the world can apply.

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