In order for UT to reach its sustainability goals, we must take responsibility for how our energy is generated and how we utilize it.
Energy Conservation Policy
Enacted in 2008, this policy identifies energy conservation as a significant issue for UT and outlines steps to manage and reduce campus energy consumption. The policy establishes that, during normal occupied hours, target indoor air temperatures in campus buildings shall be 68 degrees Fahrenheit for heating and 76 degrees Fahrenheit for cooling. In addition, the policy sets guidelines for energy-efficient purchasing, computing, lighting, and water use by UT faculty, staff, students, and visitors.
The University of Tennessee has been recognized by the EPA as the #10 Green Power Purchaser of colleges and universities in the nation and #1 in the SEC. In 2005, the University of Tennessee began purchasing green power through TVA’s Green Switch Program to stimulate demand for renewable energy in the Tennessee Valley and southeastern United States and offset a porortion of the campus’s energy consumption. In 2013-14, the University of Tennessee purchased 80,020,000 KWh of Green e-certified renewable energy credits (RECs) which account for nearly a third of the university’s overall energy demand.
UT recognizes the importance of not only sourcing its energy sustainably but utilizing it sustainably. UT has made great strides in lowering its energy demand through efficiency initiatives including SMC Lighting System Upgrades. With labor donated by the Facilities Services Department, this four-year, $384,000 project supported the installation of new lighting fixtures and controls that use about one-third less electricity and eliminate the need for excessive lighting in the Stokely Management Center (SMC). In addition, the project added daylight harvesting technology to the building so that the lighting dims as sunlight enters a space. These improvements have saved $56,000 a year based on 2003 electric rates.
Additionally, UT Sustainability has spearheaded several campaigns aimed at educating the campus community about sustainable living habits and reducing one’s personal environmental impact through behavior modifications.
Switch Your Thinking
The Switch Your Thinking campaign, initiated in fall 2008, calls for the entire UT community to take action to conserve energy. Faculty, staff, students, and visitors are urged to reduce campus energy use by incorporating the following actions into their daily routine:
- Turn off lights when not in the office for more than one hour.
- Turn off computers when not in the office for more than an hour.
- Use a power strip in the office, and turning it off at the end of each day.
- Turn off window AC units at the end of each day.
To date, Switch Your Thinking has helped the Knoxville campus avoid over $1 million in electricity costs, while preventing the environmental impacts associated with producing this power. In January 2011, the Chancellor’s Challenge encouraged the campus community to further reduce its energy use by 10 percent.
Power Down Pledge
The Power Down Pledge represents the University of Tennessee’s student, staff, and faculty’s commitment to reducing their environmental impact through sustainable lifestyle changes. The pledge has garnered over 5,000 signatures to date, and in October 2013 alone, over 2,000 students pledged to power down. Sign on to the Power Down pledge here.