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Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development, or SEEED, has backing of the Knoxville city officials and TVA to weatherize about 1,300 homes.

Next week the organization will present a workshop 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Morningside Community Center in East Knoxville to tell people how weatherization can help lower their utility bills.

SEEED, which runs career-training programs for youth, will be canvassing neighborhoods and handing out LED light bulbs with volunteer support.

The SEEED program comes out of an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, which found in 2013 that emergency utility payments go to roughly 10,000 households annually in the community, a cost that can run up to $5 million.

Those interested in the meeting or getting involved with SEEED can call the main office at 865-766-5185, or visit seeedknox.com.

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Mawuli Tse has already brought solar power to hundreds of residents in urban Ghana and other African countries.

Now thanks to a $100,000 grant, he's creating a solar product for street vendors in rural areas, reports Jamie McGee of the Tennessean.

The device uses solar panels, which can be attached to umbrellas often used by the vendors, to power mobile charging stations for customers.

Vendors may also use the system for light, allowing them to stay open later or for use at homes, Tse said.

Read the full story with video at The Tennessean: Nashvillian's solar device helps vendors in Africa

Photo:Mawuli Tse detaches a portable solar panel from the top of an vendor umbrella at his home in Nashville on Friday.(Photo: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean)

Don't toss that tree! (or the lights)

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Christmas is behind us and many festive trees will soon be stripped of their finery.

If your tree is artificial, then back into storage (we hope!) it goes. But for those who chose a live tree, Knoxville and Knox County have disposal options to keep them out of our landfills and some organizations will also recycle trees and other items. Above, News Sentinel photographer Adam Lau photographed trees dropped off for recycling at Ijams Nature Center.

Knox County residents can drop off their tree anytime in January for free at one of five Knox County recycling centers. Just remove all ornaments, lights, wire, string and other decorations before bringing them to be tree-cycled and reused as mulch and other soil amendments. This option is also open to city of Knoxville residents.

Locations of Christmas Treecycling

  • Dutchtown Convenience Center - 10618 Dutchtown Road
  • Halls Convenience Center - 3608 Neal Drive
  • John Sevier Convenience Center - 1950 West John Sevier Highway
  • Powell Convenience Center - 7311 Morton View Lane
  • Tazewell Pike Convenience Center - 7201 Tazewell Pike

Christmas tree collection for city of Knoxville residents is the same process as for brush collection. Remove decorations and put your tree on the curb. Keep in mind it may stay there for a while -- the regular two-week brush pickup schedule won't resume until Feb. 1, according to the city website.  For faster removal, city residents can also take advantage of the Knox County recycling options above.

Other recycling options can help you give back to community organizations, or earn you a discount on next year's decorations.

Westminster Presbyterian Church in Knoxville is one of the first 20 congregations to be designated a Certified Cool Congregation by Interfaith Power and Light for its energy efficiency efforts.

The certification is a culmination of 20 years of effort in the church's "Creation Care" initiative to reduce its environmental impact, writes Larisa Brass in the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The congregation has upgraded the church's windows, lights and installed an energy management system that reduced its carbon emissions by 4.5 tons.

The church is also looking for ways to save energy that help it financially as well. A recent installation of a 5kw solar array added to the other upgrades mean the church saves about 30 percent on energy costs.

The solar installation was installed with a $16,000 grant through Knoxville's Solar America Cities program and offsets 5 percent of the church's electricity needs.

The latest updates from the city of Knoxville's Office of Sustainability show reductions in emissions and energy use both for city operations and the community as a whole.

The city's Energy and Sustainability Initiative, now in its seventh year, measures energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions through sustainability improvements for Knoxville. The eventual goal is a 20 percent reduction by 2020.

As a municipality, the city reduced its energy consumption by 6.5 percent. Greenhouse gas emissions associated with city operations fell 13 percent.

At the community level, the emissions associated with energy use, transportation and waste management fell 7.8 percent from 2005 levels.

"These savings reflect the success of projects like the city's conversion of traffic signals to LED technology and energy efficiency upgrades at city buildings," said Jake Tisinger, Project Manager for the Office of Sustainability, in a press release. "Residents and businesses are using less energy than in 2005, and improved fuel economy and cleaner electricity generation have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The Tennessee Energy Education Initiative in partnership with Memphis, Shelby County and the State of Tennessee will host regional and national experts on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy management projects at the 
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In addition to an overview of best practices, the summit will address industry specific trends for healthcare and education with customized schedules. Learn about best practices and hear case studies from a variety of different professionals.

Healthcare: Keynote speaker David Rivas, facilities engineer with the Mayo Clinic, will present "How Energy Efficiency and Sustainability insure Corporate Health for the Mayo Clinic."




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English: Compact fluorescent light bulb

English: Compact fluorescent light bulb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

KUB small business customers averaging 50 kw or less can still take advantage of a free lighting assessment program with grants contributing toward energy efficient upgrades. 

Since the MainStreet Efficiency program's launch in January, more than 500 KUB small business customers have signed up to implement recommended lighting upgrades, and 285 have been installed as of April 17, according to data from EnerPath. 

Funding for the program is provided by TVA, which has set aside $1.5 million to be used through September 30.

Customers receive a free lighting assessment from TVA contractor EnerPath showing how much they could save on energy costs with more efficient lighting. The program will pay up to $2,000 to offset the cost of energy efficient upgrades if they decide to implement suggested changes. 


According to TVA, lighting consumes nearly 35 percent of the electricity used in commercial buildings in the country. Lighting also impacts other building systems through its use of electricity and through waste heat.

Most upgrades in the program have cost an average of $1,310, less than the max grant amount, so most customers have no out-of-pocket costs, a KUB spokesperson said.

Projected energy savings from the committed projects is more than 2 million kilowatt hours, with an average per-customer savings of $482 per year.

Under MainStreet Efficiency, lighting upgrades could include replacing fluorescent fixtures with higher-efficiency lamps and ballasts, changing regular bulbs to compact fluorescent lights or light-emitting diode lights, or upgrading "Exit" signs to LED technology.
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