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KNOXVILLE – The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, proposed today a set of projects that would use federal stimulus funding to fight rising energy costs and keep the university a national leader in campus sustainability.

“We believe these projects are vital to our ability to move forward as an institution,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “This one-time money will allow us to create long-term savings that will benefit our students, faculty and staff, as well as the community as a whole for years to come.”

Top project priorities include the addition of electric meters to campus buildings, new windows on the Austin Peay Psychology and Alumni Memorial buildings, the installation of motion-sensing light switches in thousands of rooms across campus, the addition of steam meters on certain key buildings, new highly-efficient electrical transformers, new water meters and upgrades to new efficient lighting systems in buildings across campus.

The campus places a major focus on energy-saving efforts, culminating with the Switch Your Thinking campaign and the enactment of a campus energy conservation policy in the fall of 2008. This fiscal year, campus energy use is down more than 5 percent from the previous year.

Utilities represent some of the largest costs incurred by the campus each year, and with fees expected to increase significantly in the coming year, officials say that any project that can offset those increases has extra value.

To be completed over the next two years at an estimated cost of $11 million, the projects are a major enhancement in both the campus’ ability to measure and adjust its utility usage and its overall efforts to modernize energy efficiency.

New meters for water, steam and electricity will allow the campus to analyze utility use in individual buildings and more easily identify and correct issues. Without this capability, facilities staff are currently limited in their ability to address problems directly.
The addition of motion-sensor switches and upgrades to windows and lighting are projects that, once complete, will have a significant long-term effect on campus energy costs, one that will last far beyond the time required to the complete the project.

These projects will complement those already being funded by the environmental facilities fee, a $5 fee paid by students each semester that funds energy-saving and environmental awareness programs around campus though the Make Orange Green program.

“Our students have always played a major role in moving our campus toward greater sustainability,” said Cheek. “Their involvement in raising awareness and activity for environmental issues has set an example across our state and region.”

The announcement comes as the campus completes its celebration of Earth Month with a day of activity for members of the UT Knoxville community. An outdoor festival, organized by members of Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville, or SPEAK, is taking place today from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the Humanities Plaza and Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Mall. A ceremony honoring recipients of the campus Environmental Stewardship Awards will be held at 4 p.m., followed by an eco-friendly fashion show featuring student designs from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a screening of the movie WALL-E immediately afterwards.

For more information on Make Orange Green, visit


Jay Mayfield, (865-974-9409,