Skip to main content

Earth Month_SocialAs UT prepares for Earth Day, faculty, staff, and students can celebrate the strides they’ve made in making orange green.

UT is a leader among large universities for successful resource conservation and environmental stewardship programs, and it leads the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for several green initiatives.

“UT has made significant strides in recent years to reduce the impact of our campus operations on the environment,” said Dave Irvin, associate vice chancellor for facilities services. “Our faculty, staff, and students’ enthusiasm for making orange green helps to fuel our progress.”

No More Coal

The UT campus is coal-free as of March, which will dramatically improve UT’s overall emissions. The $25 million steam plant conversion has eliminated the need to burn coal to heat buildings on the main and agricultural campuses. The second phase of replacing the coal-fired boilers with high-efficiency natural gas and fuel oil boilers is underway. The 300-foot smokestack and other coal-handling equipment will be removed early next year.

The conversion reduces utilities emissions by 50 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by more than two-thirds, which is the equivalent of taking 7,000 cars off the road on a daily basis.

A Green Leader

UT leads the SEC in three prominent areas:

  • UT is the SEC leader and is ranked tenth nationally across universities and colleges for the purchase of green power, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Challenge.
  • UT also leads the SEC in recycling at athletics events, according to the national GameDay Recycling Challenge. In this total recycling category, UT ranked second nationally behind Clemson University.
  • Additionally, UT has the lowest energy use per square foot, based on comparisons to other SEC schools using various rating programs.

Thursday’s Earth Day celebration will serve as a platform for UT and the Knoxville community to celebrate the earth, share ideas for local action, showcase environmental and responsible leadership, and create a marketplace for local and purposeful commerce.

“The Earth Day celebration is the largest environmental focused event held on campus at any point throughout the year. However, it’s more than just a celebration. It’s a time to educate, engage, and most importantly, inspire,” said Preston Jacobsen, UT sustainability manager.

Thursday’s celebration is set for 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Humanities Amphitheater. Several local food vendors, artisans, and environmental organizations will be on hand for the celebration, which also will include an e-waste recycling drive, recyclimpics games, a green tailgate showcase, and do-it-yourself workshops.

For more information on UT’s sustainability efforts, visit UT’s Sustainability website.

For additional Earth Month events, visit UT’s Earth Month calendar.