An environmental resource for East Tennessee Businesses

March 2015 Archives

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Starting next year, FEMA says it will only approve disaster preparedness funds to states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that factor in climate change.

This may put several Republican governors who maintain the earth isn't warming due to human activities, or prefer to do nothing about it, into a political bind, reports Katherine Bagley, with InsideClimate News.

Their position may block their states' access to hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA funds. Over the past five years, the agency has awarded an average $1 billion a year in grants to states and territories for taking steps to mitigate the effects of disasters.

Photo: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate speaks at FEMA headquarters in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson)

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Community organizers have finalized long-range plans for linking greenways in West Knoxville, Knox County and Oak Ridge.

The Knox to Oak Ridge Greenway Plan, created by The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council, Knoxville Regional TPO and their partners, would add 13.2 miles of greenway trail to connect the Melton Lake Greenway in Oak Ridge with the 10 Mile Creek and Pellissippi greenways in Knox County.

The project as envisioned would cost $8.8 million dollars and be pursued in stages, according to a press release.  A second, smaller study is in the works this year to add the Turkey Creek Greenway into the project, based on public feedback.

Of that figure, the greenway itself is estimated to cost $600,000 per mile, but some portions of the proposed path will take more work than others. Safely crossing the Solway Bridge is a known problem; the proposed cantilevered pedestrian walkway  solution would cost $560,000. The Cross Creek trailhead, including a parking lot, would need to be created at a cost of $103,000.

 Finding those funds is expected to take time and a mix of public and private cooperation, especially as federal support for such projects are on the wane. 

Options mentioned in the report include asking developers of nearby commercial and residential projects to set aside property or easments for the greenway, as well as traditional donations of money and materials.

The planning document highlights potential benefits of greenways to both homeowners and businesses, citing projects in similar cities in the region that attracted businesses and boosted home values. 

All 17 schools in the Anderson County school system have received upgrades as part of a $9.7 million project to save energy.

An open house celebrating the milestone will be  5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday at Briceville Elementary School.

The project included upgrades to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, electrical systems, new windows, energy efficient lights, water conservation measures, advanced energy management controls and new suspended ceiling systems.

The improvements will provide the school system with more than $620,000 in annual energy savings, which will more than pay for implementation, said Larry Foster, director of schools in a news release.

The energy saved is estimated to be equivalent to the power needs of more than 650 homes per year.

The project is part of a 15-year contract with Energy Systems Group, an energy service provider, approved last year.

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Visit the University of Tennessee's SPECTRUM solar energy exhibit Saturday at Knoxville Center Mall and learn the ins and outs of solar energy, courtesy of UT, the city of Knoxville, Aries Energy and TN-SCORE.

From 10:30 a.m.-noon March 14, ARiES Energy will present information about installing solar panels for residential and commercial customers, including the process, pay-back period and impact on electricity bills.

The exhibit is on the mall's second level, next to JC Penney.

Register with Eventbrite

TWC.jpgTennessee Wesleyan College has earned 2014 Tree Campus USA recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation.

The program recognizes colleges and universities that maintain healthy trees and encourage conservation efforts on campus. 

The program requires five core standards for sustainable campus forestry, including an established tree advisory committee, a campus tree-care plan, dedicated monies for the campus tree program, observance of Arbor Day and the sponsorship of student service-learning projects.

"The Tree Advisory Committee is a student-led committee," Mike Ingram, TWC director of physical plant services. "Their work this last year enabled us to receive this achievement. They planned and participated in Arbor Day and completed a service-learning project with Dr. Allen Moore."

Pictured from left: TWC Students Stephanie Franklin, Sarah Kilgore, Brook Fincher, Tim Wilson, Rachel Hull

 

 

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With solar energy costs falling and interest in sustainability rising in East Tennessee, the time is right for Nashville-based LightWave Solar to expand east, said Jon Bates, who heads the company's new office in the Knoxville area, in an interview with reporter Ed Marcum.

LightWave Solar opened its East Tennessee office Jan. 1, Bates said. For now, he operates it out of his home in Lenoir City, but as business grows, LightWave will open a permanent office somewhere in the area.

"We will expand with sales and administrative people and installation crews," he said Tuesday. "We have already exceeded our goals for almost the first quarter in East Tennessee."

While the Knoxville office is something new, the company is no stranger to the area. It has an office in Johnson City and has done a number of solar installations in East Tennessee. It now is working on a 1-megawatt solar installation at East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge (pictured). Restoration Services Inc. and Vis Solis are developing the project, which will have 3,269 solar modules and feed the electricity produced into the TVA power grid.

Continue reading at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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