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Thanksgiving Break Shut Down

Before you leave Rocky Top for Thanksgiving Break, be sure to follow these simple steps to ensure your room is not wasting any energy while you are gone. While these steps are geared towards on-campus housing, students who live off campus can also follow them.

  • Check for any leaks and make sure all your faucets are completely off before you leave
  • Switch your thermostat to either 68 degrees, or low, depending on how the heating unit in your room looks looks
    • It is important to not turn your unit completely off, so the pipes do not burst in the colder weather
  • Unplug all electronics from the outlets, and turn off any lights
    • If you have your electronics plugged into a power-strip, remember to turn it off
    • If you have a refrigerator, be sure to empty and defrost it before you leave campus
  • Close windows and blinds
    • This will help to trap the heat in, and keep the cold out


By following these small, simple steps, together we can make campus a more sustainable place to live, learn and work! Safe travels!

POWER Challenge Final Results: Massey Wins

The 14th annual POWER Challenge came to an end this past Monday, and for the second year in a row Massey took first place with 2884 points. Throughout the month Massey hosted 12 creative sustainability themed events, posted 88 educational flyers, made many recycled door decorations, and more.

The month long campaign featured over 30 events hosted by residence halls, which reached hundreds of students to teach them the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle. RAs engaged their residences by making door decorations and bulletin boards out of recycled material, provided energy conservation tips, and attended a variety of sponsored events put on through our office, to name a few.

While Massey took the overall first place, other halls exceeded in certain areas as well. Laurel Hall had the largest reduction in water over the month. South Carrick reduced their energy the most, and for recycling Morrill had the largest increase in items recycled.

Fred Brown had the most amount of community service hours submitted, with over 300 hours of service throughout the month. This included a litter clean-up on Cumberland Ave which is a great way to not only help beautify our campus, but spend some time enjoying the outdoors.

The POWER Challenge is a great way to remind students not only the importance, but that living a sustainable life can be easy and fun. The programs, flyers, bulletin boards and other activities engaged the students that generated excitement pertaining to energy and water conservation, plus recycling.

To read more about each week you can read the articles here: Week 1; Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.

Pictures from the campaign are uploaded on our Facebook here.



October Sustainability Champion

Payton Myers was voted by the Committee on the Campus Environment as the October Sustainability Champion. This monthly award recognizes a UT faculty, staff or student who exemplifies what it means to “Make Orange Green”.

Payton is a junior with a double major in Business Analytics’ and Sustainability. She is the President of the student organization SPEAK, which stands for Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville. At Campus Sustainability Day, she lead SPEAK in making their famous veggie burgers, which offered attendees a vegan dining option.

Recently she took the time out of her busy schedule to help the Office of Sustainability film their “Day on the Life of a Sustainability Student” video. Payton also helped raise awareness for the Rohm & Haas hearing, which is a chemical company located in the Fort Sanders neighborhood who attempted to get a renewed permit that would allow them to store hazardous waste.

“Payton is always willing to take time out of her day to help others in regards to sustainability. As the President of SPEAK she always plans informative meetings for group members. She also has been active in helping SPEAK with their student garden at the UT Visitor Center, and adopting a plot at the Grow Lab. She lives sustainability, and encourages everyone around her to do the same by the passion she has for the topic.” (nominee submittal).

Congratulations Payton!

Get to know more about Payton:

Campus Involvements: President of SPEAK, Member of Green Fee Committee, E&S, Environmental Summit, CCE
Hometown: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Favorite outdoor activity: Hiking and Nature Photography
Favorite quote: “How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives” – Heather Lende (If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name)
Favorite thing about UT: I am very happy with our number of environmental classes available. No matter what my specific interests or passions are I can find classes that cover those topics and introduce me to sustainable ideas that I had not previously thought of.
Dream Job: Data Analyst for an environmental organization or company

As a monthly award, we are now accepting nominations for the November Sustainability Champion. To nominate someone click the link: November Sustainability Champion.

Student Organization Focuses on Ecological Restoration

The Society for Ecological Restoration is a nation-wide society that is dedicated to the preservation of our natural lands and ecosystems. More specifically, the UT Knoxville chapter hopes to promote sustainability and reintroduction of native species through invasive species removal, trash removal, and planting of native species.

All of these goals line up with the mission of not only preserving natural landscapes, but hoping to restore them to their original state.

A few weeks ago SER hosted their first creek cleanup at Third Creek right on here campus. Claire, a member of the organization explains that “we were able to remove a lot trash from the creek and the surrounding areas with just our volunteers.”

SER was provided tools to clean the creek by Garrett Ferry, the Stormwater Coordinator for campus. To learn more about Stormwater Management at UT, and to request your own supplies for a river clean up, visit the Facilities Services Stormwater web-page.

She adds that the next creak cleanup they are planning on bringing canoes to reach a greater area. These cleanups are essential to returning Third Creek to its beautiful state. With UT Knoxville student’s support, this organization can make a large ecological difference on campus!


Students and Staff Attend the AASHE Conference

This October, four students in varying fields of study and three staff members from the Office of Sustainability traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to hear speakers, contribute to panels, and expand their knowledge of sustainability at the AASHE Conference.

AASHE stands for The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and it is the largest campus sustainability focused event in the nation, bringing together 2,000 participants.

Preston Jacobsen, the Sustainability Manager, explains that “the networking opportunities to continue the dissemination of ideas and insight into our ever evolving field of work,” is a crucial component to the conference. Sustainability is a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative field, so going to conferences like AASHE are an important part of the job.

Shannon Schaefer, the data coordinator for the Office of Sustainability adds that “the conference was more than just learning for ourselves, it was a comforting reminder that we’re all in this together, ready to accomplish great things.”

Students also enjoyed the conference. Riley Smith says that the conference “allowed me to speak with professors from other universities, and solidify my plans after graduation in the environmental ethics field.” The collaborative energy of the conference is something that was felt by all participants.

Emma Heins, an environmental studies major, said that talking to other universities about how they promote sustainability was the best part of the weekend. She notes, “You’ll never know the ideas that are working at other institutions until you talk to them.”

Seeking out new information was the greatest takeaway that the students noted. All the students who attended the conference recommended the experience to interested parties. William Shavers explains, “it was filled with so many experiences and lessons that I can apply to UT and my daily life.” 

Overall, the AASHE was an amazing opportunity for UT Knoxville to network, learn, and collaborate. If this seems like an interesting event to you, there are more opportunities to go to conferences just like AASHE in the future!

In the image above conference attendees (L-R) Lilli Johnson, Emma Heins, Riley Smith, Shannon Schaefer, Carolyn Brown, and Preston Jacobsen

POWER Challenge Week 4

It has been another great week of the POWER Challenge. This week, Massey jumped to the front of the pack by holding a ton of floor and hall programs, congratulations! Stokely is in close second, and Morrill is currently in third.

Our office hosted our final event of the month this past week, an outdoor yoga class that encouraged students to power down and head outside. We had so much fun encouraging exercise, community, and sustainability!

The residence halls all worked extremely hard this week to put on educational and fun events for their residents.

Stokely put together a floor event where residents brought their own old T-Shirts and learned how to up-cycle them into reusable bags. This is a great way to give old material new life!

Morrill Hall held a zero-waste Halloween party. They all dressed up and enjoyed food and Halloween themed candy. Zero-waste isn’t as hard as it seems, use reusable materials and try to only buy materials that you actually need. 

Vol Hall decided to highlight the POWER Challenge with a bulletin board that shows residents how they can participate in the POWER Challenge by conserving water, saving energy, and recycling. 

Thank you again for participating. We will have the final results of the POWER Challenge updated soon!

How to Have a Sustainable Halloween

It’s spooky season! If you are frightened by the amount of waste generated during Halloween, read on to see how you and your friends can reduce your Halloween footprint.

One of the major contributors to Halloween waste is costumes. A crazy 85% of Halloween costumes each year are sent right to the landfill after use. To remedy this, here are some simple tips:

  • Try to DIY your costume
  • Swap costumes with a friend from the previous year
  • Go to thrift stores to up-cycle funky outfits for your costume.

Did you know 40% of food in America ends up in the landfill? Here are some tips to help reduce that:

  • Use the insides of the pumpkin to make some of your favorite pumpkin flavored treats, such as roasted seeds or pumpkin muffins
  • Make sure to compost those pumpkins that are on your front porch instead of throwing them in the landfill.

Composting is an easy way to turn food scraps into soil for your garden, and divert food waste from the landfill! Baking the seeds in the oven to make a fun snack is also a great way to reduce food waste.

These small changes to your Halloween routine can make a big difference for sustainability.

Are you having a sustainable Halloween? We’d love to see! Hashtag your posts with #makeorangegreen so we can see all the great work you are doing.



POWER Challenge Week 3

Week three of the POWER Challenge is officially complete! Congratulations to Fred Brown Hall who is currently in first place for week three. They jumped ahead Hess, who had been in the lead for a while. Thanks to our residence halls for working so hard this month!

Our office hosted Campus Sustainability Day last Thursday, and so many people came by to see what environmental groups were doing around Knoxville. It was a great day filled with food, fun, and cool giveaways. Thank you to everyone who participated!


The residence halls also did some great events for their residents. Below are just some of the many great submissions from all of the halls.

Fred Brown made a bulletin board that was made using recycled paper and features fun facts about recycling.

Morrill Hall did a floor program where they went to the rock and painted it! What a fun way to incorporate UT traditions into the challenge.

Massey Hall had an event called the “Shrinky Dink Program”, where they used plastic containers to make key chains. This was done by tracing a picture, cutting out the trace, hole punching it, and putting it in the oven until the film shrinks to the size of the key chain. They used plastics from the recycling, which is a great way to promote up-cycling!

North Carrick made this bulletin board which encourages energy conservation in the “Guide to Being Reasonably Lit”.

This week, the POWER Challenge comes to an end. As we celebrate the end of this month, come to our final event Yoga on the Quad, on Thursday at 5PM on HSS Lawn. Thank you for everyone for supporting our initiative this month!

POWER Challenge Week 2

The POWER Challenge is in full swing, and we are halfway through the month long competition. Massey has taken title this week, followed closely by Hess and Morrill.

During week two of the competition, there were several events run both through our office and by the residence halls. The Blackout Bash was this past Friday, where students carved pumpkins, ate fall themed snacks and learned about zero waste practices. There was a great turnout and we had so much fun!

The next morning we hosted a work day at the Grow Lab, where we helped with general gardening practices.

Be sure to check out our Facebook to see photos from both of these events.

The residence halls also had a busy week planning a variety of events. Hess Hall had a zero waste movie night, where they provided warm beverages to residents who brought their own mug. This event was a great way to highlight the Mug Project!

Morrill Hall had an event called “Super Trash Bros,” where they held a Super Smash Bros video game tournament, but to enter you had to bring five or more recyclables. Morrill also had a great bulletin board submission, highlighting what you can and can’t recycle.

Stokely did an event where residents were invited to spin the wheel about water conservation for a piece of candy. This was a great way to inform residents about different water conservation facts!

In the future we will keep hearing from our residence halls about their events, and continue to update the scores weekly.

In the next coming weeks look out for our upcoming events below:

  • Campus Sustainability Day
    • Thursday, October 18th, 11 – 3 on HSS Amphitheater
    • This event features many environmentally focused groups from both campus and Knoxville, free food and free SWAG!
  • UT Zero Waste Game Day
    • Saturday, October 20th, multiple times
    • Sign up to volunteer here
    • Help out UT Recycling with their Zero Waste Game Day efforts to help get points for your hall
  • Yoga on the Quad
    • Thursday, October 25th at 5PM on HSS Amphitheater
    • Sign up for the event here
    • Come out for a yoga class held outside, be sure to turn off and unplug your room before heading out!

As a reminder, you can always follow us on social media to stay updated with the POWER Challenge.




POWER Challenge Week 1

The POWER Challenge is a month long competition between the residence halls on campus to see who is the greenest. The scores are compiled weekly, and at the end of the month a winner will be announced!

When calculating usage points, the hall that reduces the most amount of energy from the previous week gets 120 points, second place gets 110, and so on. The same goes for water calculations. For recycling, the hall that increases in recycling will receive 120 points, 2nd place gets 110 points, and so on. There are also opportunities for the residence halls to get points by having environmentally themed events, bike rides, educational bulletin boards, and more!

This first week there was a sponsored event put on by EcoVols, an environmental student group on campus. They showed “Before The Flood” in Hodges Library with a great turnout!

Stokely Residence Hall gained participation points and promoted sustainability with this fun bulletin board (pictured), good job guys!

In the future we will keep hearing from our residence halls about their events, and continue to update the scores weekly.

In the next coming weeks look out for our upcoming events, listed below, which promote sustainability in a variety of ways, additionally all residents who attend will receive points for their hall.

As a reminder, you can always follow us along with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay updated with the POWER Challenge!

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