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Switch Your Thinking

KNOXVILLE — The grades are out and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, continues its leading position among the greenest universities in the Southeast, according to the 2011 College Sustainability Report Card.

UT Knoxville’s B grade for 2011 puts it in the top half among Southeastern Conference universities in an annual grading report by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. UT Knoxville’s overall grade is up from a B- in 2009.

The campus earned an A grade for student involvement and its efforts to address climate change and energy conservation, noting the 7 percent overall reduction in carbon and other emissions from 2008 to 2009. The report highlighted the campus’s reduction in building energy consumption due to temperature set points, among other measures.

The campus’s orientation activities and the Venture Living-Learning Community, a residential program within the College of Business Administration that emphasizes social responsibility, were commended in the grade report.

“From very early on, our students took the lead in many of our most successful conservation programs. Their involvement continues to be a driving force for our sustainability initiatives,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek.

UT Knoxville earned its highest grades to date in food and recycling efforts, green building and investment priorities. The campus’s dining services were highlighted for purchasing hormone- and antibiotic-free dairy products from local sources and serving organic dairy products, free-trade coffee and other sustainable food items.

UT Knoxville’s sustainable building policy requires that construction and major renovation projects of more than $5 million meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. The campus is currently exploring opportunities for increasing on-site solar generation, and donors can direct gifts toward campus sustainability projects via the Campus Environmental Stewardship Fund.

The College Sustainability Report Card is one of several recognitions UT Knoxville has received for its green efforts. This fall, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) gave UT Knoxville the Green Power Leadership Award for the campus’s commitment to advancing renewable energy. Last year, SACE awarded the university the Energy Efficiency Leadership Award for its Switch Your Thinking campaign.

Earlier this year, The Princeton Review listed UT Knoxville in its “Guide to 286 Green Colleges,” citing the Student Environmental Initiatives fund and recognizing the campus’s 2007 sustainable building policy. Last summer, The Princeton Review gave UT Knoxville a “green rating” of 85 in its 2010 edition of “The Best 371 Colleges.”

The full 2010 report from the Sustainable Endowments Institute can be found online at


Rebekah Winkler (865-974-8304,