Knoxville is the first city in Tennessee to join the challenge, Rogero said. Also in Tennessee, Nissan North America has joined the challenge as an industrial partner. It has committed three plants to a goal of 25 percent improvement, including its new paint plant in Smyrna, Tenn.
The program asks community leaders -- including those in corporate, government and education positions -- to reduce their portfolio-wide energy use by 20 percent by 2020 and showcase the solutions they use and the results they achieve.
"By accepting the Better Buildings Challenge, Knoxville is leading by example," said Susanna Sutherland, manager of the City's Office of Sustainability. "This is an important step toward a sustainable future for the City and the region."
The city's goal under the program is to improve energy efficiency in more than 2 million square feet of its public buildings by 2020. City Council approved the City's participation in the program last month. Another key part of the project involves sharing implementation successes and challenges with the community.
Knoxville is already working on energy efficiency as part of its contract with energy-services company Ameresco. The company develped an energy efficiency plan for 99 of the city's public buildings and other facilities, including the installation of the convention center's solar array.