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East Tennessee schools recognized for sustainability efforts

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.

Maryville College

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, or STARS program, by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is the only one of its kind that involves publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university's sustainability performance.

Participants report achievements in four key categories that are outlined by the STARS reporting tool: 1) education and research; 2) operations; 3) planning, administration and engagement; and 4) innovation.  

In September 2010, the College announced its participation in the program and was able to obtain STARS 1.0 to begin the initial process of achieving a sustainability rating and assessment of the campus.

"Over an 18-month period, we had a team of four faculty and student assistants working on this research, each focusing on a different category of the STARS data that involved everything from curricular surveys, transportation surveys, multiple meetings and data collection with the Physical Plant staff and reviews of strategic plans, human resource policies and investing holdings of the institution," said Adrienne Schwarte, associate professor of art/graphic design and MC STARS administrator.

The finished report was submitted January 18 and cited some of the following achievements:

Student and community sustainability initiatives and events
Organic garden plots for students
An undergraduate program in sustainability, MC's Environmental Studies program
Ongoing faculty research in sustainability
Lighting sensors and energy efficient lighting on campus
Recycling initiatives

Healthy Schools 

The primary focus of High Performance Healthy Schools Symposium was improving student learning environments through innovations in building design and technology.

Outstanding School District 
Knox County Schools 

Knox County Schools demonstrated excellence by researching and implementing newest energy-saving technologies, actively seeking to improve school maintenance efficiency and quality. The school system significantly reduced spending through education in energy efficiency and demand response programs. 

Outstanding School
Oak Ridge High School 

Oak Ridge High School is the first LEED certified school in East Tennessee. The building design earned the LEED Silver certification for reducing energy consumption by 26%, and reducing water usage by 22%. The redesigned also increased natural light in study spaces.

Outstanding School
White Pine Elementary School 

White Pine Elementary School, located in Jefferson County, received its award for outstanding work in sustainability. Through grants teachers are able to further the school mission of promoting conservation, recycling, environmental education, and protection of endangered species.  Students learn about sustainability in various ways, from native plant gardens and composting with earthworms to home energy audits.

Outstanding School Group
E.L. Ross Elementary School 

E.L. Ross Elementary School which is a part of Cleveland City Schools, has a team of 30 students completely engaged in energy efficiency. Students perform shut-down services for teachers, engage in energy-efficiency poster contests and energy competitions, work with the maintenance department to resolve issues in the school uncovered by student-led audits.

Community Outreach
Johnson City Power Board 

The power board actively promotes building and energy efficiency through education to all area schools; faculty, staff, students, and parents have attended seminars on everything from insulation to lighting both at schools and at home.


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