Skip to main content

The Switch Your Thinking energy-saving effort at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is halfway to its goal of a 10 percent reduction in energy use compared to last year.

As of March 1, the campus has used 5 percent less energy this fiscal year than last, resulting in a savings of $559,000. The savings are a result of students, faculty and staff at UT Knoxville taking many steps to cut back on energy use, combined with a new campus energy conservation policy.

“It’s good news for our campus to hit this milestone in our Switch Your Thinking effort,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “The members of our campus community have taken the effort to heart, and these results show a big impact on both campus sustainability and our bottom line. I’m grateful to them for taking on this cause at such an important time.”

Across campus, students, faculty and staff have been encouraged to turn off unneeded lights and unused computers, and be more conscientious about the use of natural light and energy-efficient appliance purchases.

The new conservation policy created standard cooling and heating setpoints in buildings throughout campus, in addition to mandating energy-saving practices in campus operations from appliance purchases to lightbulb installation.

Announced Dec. 1, the policy has had an impact, said Mike Sherrell, executive director for the UT Knoxville facilities services department, which played a key role in implementing the policy across campus.

“Certainly the new policy has been a big net positive for us,” said Sherrell. “We’re especially grateful for people around campus taking the time to let us know areas where there may be inefficiencies in heating and cooling that we can repair.”

Temperature setpoints will be especially important as the spring approaches. A one-degree decrease in temperature during the heating season leads to a 2 percent overall energy savings, but a one-degree increase during the cooling season has double the effect as a result of the energy needed to cool campus buildings.

Energy savings were also buoyed on campus by continuing energy efficiency upgrades funded by the campus’ student environmental facilities fee. The first fee of its kind in the state when it was instituted in 2005, the $5-per-semester fee helps fund projects such as lighting upgrades that have a direct energy and cost-saving benefit.

Switch Your Thinking was introduced last fall as an effort to promote energy reduction and overall efficiency at UT Knoxville. By promoting conservation to students, faculty and staff, the effort aims to meet energy conservation goals while creating a change in campus culture that recognizes the importance of efficiency and sustainability.