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KNOXVILLE — Leadership from University of Tennessee students and administrators has made the University of Tennessee a regional and national leader in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partner program.

UT uses more green power than any other organization in Tennessee and has the fourth largest green power program in the Southeast. UT also ranks 16th nationwide among all colleges and universities that participate in the program, according to EPA data released this week. UT’s green power purchase is made using funds from the Student Environmental Initiatives Facilities Fee.

The fee of $5 per semester is the collaborative result of a student initiative to encourage green power usage and administration efforts to make UT a leader in environmental programs.

“I’m very excited UT has committed to supporting our local renewable energy economy, and has engaged in efforts to promote campus sustainability,” said Jon Paul Plumlee, clean energy co-chair of SPEAK, a UT student environmental group. “Through campus education, students will become increasingly aware of how their daily actions affect the surrounding world.”

Another reflection of UT’s leadership effort is the university’s recognition as a partner in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership (TP3). UT was recognized for its environmental plan to improve air quality, conserve water and energy and reduce waste produced by the university.

This week, UT students will continue to “Make Orange Green” by trading in their old light bulbs for more energy efficient ones, and in the process conserve energy, save UT money and learn more about the simple things they can do to help the environment.

Each day between 4 and 7 p.m., students living in residence halls will exchange conventional light bulbs they might normally use in lamps for energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs — free of charge.

“By giving students more efficient light bulbs, we can make a significant impact on energy usage,” said Sarah Surak, coordinator of UT’s recycling programs. “More than that, though, we can help students see the large impact of small actions, and get them thinking about other ways they can act.”

The newer bulbs, while slightly more expensive than conventional light bulbs, will last three times longer. They use substantially less energy than standard bulbs, which leads to a savings of $6 per bulb per year. This savings in energy costs far outweighs the difference in price.

In addition, reduced energy use from each of the new bulbs will offset the emission of 239 pounds of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide, leading to cleaner air for East Tennessee.

Only a few colleges from around the country have undertaken programs like UT’s light bulb exchange. By purchasing 2,500 of the new energy-efficient bulbs, UT could potentially reduce its energy use by nearly 200 megawatt-hours annually. One thousand bulbs will be available during this event, and more will be available later in the year.

In addition to the light bulb exchange, UT is using funds from the student environmental fee to replace lighting fixtures in a number of buildings around campus to add to the reduction in power usage. Energy efficiency, though, is only one part of UT’s commitment to “Make Orange Green.” From using hybrid vehicles to maintaining recycling as a campus priority, UT will continue to be a leader in environmental efforts.
Contact: Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409)