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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, today took a step forward in its environmental efforts by announcing a planned policy to require major new campus buildings and renovations to conform to LEED standards.

The policy, announced today by UT Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree, would be the first of its kind at a college or university in the state of Tennessee.

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a program administered by the U.S. Green Building Council to create a set of standards for environmentally friendly building. The standards ensure that a building is significantly more energy- and water- efficient than a normal building, as well as using less harmful techniques in construction.

All new buildings constructed on the UT campus at a cost of more than $5 million and any major renovations would be required to follow LEED standards under the policy.

“As we celebrate the first year of the Make Orange Green program, I think it is vital to make LEED a matter of policy at UT Knoxville,” said Crabtree. “In doing so, we both acknowledge our progress and affirm our commitment to keep UT a leader on environmental issues.”

In addition to their environmental impact, a number of case studies have shown that LEED-certified buildings lead to significant cost savings due to reduced energy and water consumption.

The announcement was made as Crabtree publicly signed two major environmental documents that commit the university to becoming “climate neutral.” The two documents are the Talloires Declaration and the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

Each document lays out environmental goals and principles for higher education institutions.

“The goals laid out in each of these documents are ambitious,” said Crabtree. “Taken as a whole, they reflect a comprehensive commitment to keep our university in its position as a national environmental leader, and this LEED policy is another indicator of that commitment.”

The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment is an effort by leaders in higher education nationwide to address global warming by reducing their institutions’ impact on the climate.

The goal is to make UT “climate neutral,” meaning that the university will have no net negative effect on the global climate. UT is now taking a climate inventory to establish a starting point for the effort, and Crabtree said he will soon name a team to implement the commitment.

The Talloires Declaration is a broad statement by higher education leaders around the world in support of 10 key environmental principles. These range from a commitment to sustainable campus practices to placing a priority on environmental education as part of the curriculum.

Make Orange Green is UT’s environmental awareness initiative. The program is designed to spread the word about UT’s environmental efforts and encourage faculty, staff and students to take part in sustainability efforts throughout campus.

Sept. 8-13 is Make Orange Green Week at UT, featuring a number of programs and activities for all members of the campus community. A complete schedule of events, along with more information on how to Make Orange Green, is available at

The text of the Talloires Declaration is available at

The text of the Presidents’ Climate Commitment is available at

Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409,