The Mug Project

UT Facilities Services posts a variety of different videos to their YouTube channel, like awesome shots of demolition on campus, presentations and workshops in their Facilities Fundamentals Series, and handy tips and tricks on a variety of different topics in their DIY Series.

Their latest video features UT Recycling‘s Outreach Coordinator, Sarah Murray talking about reducing our waste by reusing things, which is an awesome tip for UTK students because of The Mug Project – a program that rewards you for using a reusable mug, water bottle, or cup on campus by discounting drinks you can get on campus! You can get a discount of 15% on specialty drinks like lattés and cappuccinos, or be charged a flat rate of 99¢ for drip coffee and fountain beverages.  More than 90% of Volunteer Dining locations participate in the program, including POD Markets, Starbucks, Einstein’s, Quiznos, and Subway.

Save yourself some money and save the world.  For more information on The Mug Project, click here. To check out more videos from Facilities Services, click here.

UT Sustainable Building Solutions

Svalbard, Norway

On Wednesday, September 23rd, ORNL and the UT College of Architecture and Design unveiled their newest project: a 3-D printed house and vehicle that produce and share energy. They accomplished this through Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy or AMIE, which integrates the generation, usage, and storage of electrical power. The solar arrangement works in conjunction with the hybrid automobile to provide all energy needed for the building and vehicle.

The solar arrangement also serves to shade the building space while preserving the light and view. This, combined with AMIE’s color-changing floor-mounted LEDs and unique interior style, puts compact living spaces in a whole new perspective.

The project started back in August of 2014 with the goal of engineering a sustainable prototype that would use a vehicle to power a building, and was completed in only one year.

Graduate architecture students at UT collaborated with SOM architects in order to explore the possibilities for light, form, space, and structure afforded by 3-D Printed polymers. The results of this research was integral to the final product. For more information, check out Tennessee Today’s article on the project.

This sustainable living innovation comes on the heels of a long line of UT spear-headed sustainable living projects. Notably, the Living Light House and the Norris House.

The Living Light House was designed by over 200 UT students and faculty across nine academic disciplines. Designed for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, it encourages active engagements in sustainable lifestyles, not just relating to energy but all aspects of sustainable life.

The Norris House has been named one of the nation’s top 10 examples of sustainable architecture and green design. The result of a collaboration between the UT College of Architecture and Design and the College of Engineering, the house collects and treats it own water, features solar-powered gadgets, and has thicker, better insulated walls for temperature control.

Dogwood Arts Bazillion Blooms

Founded in 1955 with a civic beautification project, Dogwood Arts has been doing its best to make and keep Knoxville beautiful by promoting and celebrating our region’s arts, culture, and natural beauty. They do this through a number of different programming efforts like Rhythm N’ Blooms, Art in Public Places Knoxville, and (what you came here to talk about) Bazillion Blooms.

This will be the sixth year for Bazillion Blooms, a program that encourages the Knoxville community to keep their neighborhoods beautiful for years to come by planting flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennials during the Fall gardening season.  Since it’s start in 2009, Dogwood Arts and the Knoxville community have planted more than 7,200 April-blooming, disease-resistant dogwood trees.

As a part of the season-long campaign, Dogwood Arts is hosting a community-wide dogwood tree-planting day on Saturday, December 5th. They are selling disease-resistant dogwood trees – one for $25 or five for $100. You can order yours by calling (865) 637 4561 or by going to their website until November 13th. Trees ordered can be picked up from 9 AM to noon on the planting day, Saturday, December 5th, at the UT Gardens parking lot off of Neyland Drive – they will not be distributed at a later time or date.

Other blooming trees, flowering shrubs, bulbs, and perennials will be available for purchase at participating Bazillion Blooms garden centers as well, such as Ellenburg Landscaping & NurseryStanley’s Greenhouse & Plant Farm, and Wilson Fine Gardens.

You can find out more about this and other programs led by Dogwood Arts by clicking here.

Eating Sustainably on Campus

Eating green is more than just making sure you get your veggies – it’s also about making sure your meals aren’t leaving a trail of garbage and carbon emissions behind them. On a college campus, this can be extremely difficult, especially when your main source of food comes from wherever your meal plan is accepted. The food that you do make at home is less likely to be a locally-sourced culinary masterpiece and more likely to be “microwaveable” with instructions like “just add water.” It doesn’t seem that bad until you take a closer look at the package.

For a 2000 calorie diet, the FDA recommends that individuals consume 50 grams (g) of protein, no more than 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium, and no more than 65 g of fat. One serving of ramen noodles contains 4 g of protein (8% Daily Value, or DV), 380 mg of sodium (16% DV), and 7 g (11% DV) of fat. One microwavable pasta meal contains 14 g of protein (28% DV), 690 mg of sodium (29% DV), and 10 g of fat (15% DV).

The packaging around these fast and easy meals, whether it be a plastic wrapper or a Styrofoam cup, is often not recyclable. Sometimes the packaging might be able to be recycled (especially the cardboard box around your frozen dinner!), but not all recycling centers take them for any number of reasons. It should be noted that food wrappers are soiled with food more often than not, which might contaminate the rest of your recyclables – rendering it all trash. UT Recycling’s Public Drop-Off and the City of Knoxville only accept the cardboard your freezer meal comes in, and potentially a plastic dish if it’s been cleaned thoroughly.

Without even mentioning the impact that production, storage, and transportation has on the environment, it’s clear that these foods are not “sustainable” in any sense. In moderation, these foods are a quick and easy fix, but they aren’t healthy for you as a person, and they aren’t healthy for our environment. Here at UTK, you have some other options. Every Wednesday afternoon (4 to 7 PM), UT Gardens hosts a Farmers’ Market, and every Wednesday (11 AM to 2 PM) and Saturday (9 AM to 2 PM) Nourish Knoxville hosts a Farmers’ Market at Market Square. Farmers’ Markets are a great source of good, fresh, and local food for reasonable prices. By being aware of the food you buy and where it comes from can help to reduce waste and save money.

Saving money is always welcome – and if you can save green while eating healthier for yourself your environment, why wouldn’t you? College can be really stressful at times, and sometimes it’s easier to just grab the fast and easy meal and call it a day – but it’s also important to remember that the behaviors you pick up during your time in college can have a lasting impact on how you live the rest of your life. College is a learning experience – don’t waste your time here.

EV Chargers Are Back Online!

The Electric Vehicle Chargers at the UT Campus in Staff Area 23 (behind Temple Hall and the Music Building), and on the Ag Campus (pictured) are officially back online as of today, October 1st.  During their brief absence, they have served as overflow parking.  Now that the chargers are back online, the spaces will require a special EV parking permit, which is free when used in conjunction with an existing UT student, faculty, staff, or visitor parking permit.  You can get these EV parking permits from the UT Parking Office at 2121 Stephenson Drive.

The EV Chargers here at UT are all PV to EV chargers – they get their energy from the photovoltaic solar panels that the parking spaces are situated underneath.  Not only do these solar panels provide clean energy to the charging stations, but they also provide solar power to the rest of campus.  These solar panels aren’t our biggest provider by any means, but every kilowatt counts!

The EV Chargers do not cost anything to use, and no longer require any sort of registration (aside from getting the free EV parking permit in addition to a valid UT student, faculty, staff, or visitor parking permit mentioned earlier).  The only requirement is that when you’re parked by an EV charging station, you’re charging your EV!

Contact UT Parking & Transit Services for more information at 865-974-6031 or parking@utk.edu.

POWER Challenge

It’s that time again – the POWER Challenge is starting up again.  A UT tradition that dates back to 2005, the Make Orange Green POWER Challenge is a part of UT’s commitment to reducing our environmental impact.  The POWER Challenge is a month-long competition pitting UT residence halls against each other in battle to prove which hall is greenest.  This year it will run from October 5th until October 30th.

POWER stands for Programs OWater, Energy, and Recycling, which is what the challenge focuses on.  Water usage, electricity usage, and recycling totals will be collected from each hall each week.  Halls will then be ranked and scored best to worst per capita.  For example – the hall with the lowest per capita water usage receives 100 points for the week, and the hall with the highest will receive only 10 points.  This goes for each of the three categories.  The better a hall performs, the better they score.

This isn’t the only way a residence can earn points, though.  There will be plenty of opportunities throughout the coming month to win points for your Res Hall – the Res Hall with the most points will not only win bragging rights, but the “Mo Green” Trophy, as well as a TBD prize that your whole hall will be able to take advantage of!

You can earn points for your hall by taking advantage of the Residence Hall programs and Floor programs that your RAs put on, designing educational flyers about environmental issues, pledging to live more sustainably, volunteering your time at a service project, or taking part in environmental campus events, lectures, and tours.  You can learn more about earning points by asking your RA or clicking here. You can submit points by filling out this form.

Stay tuned for scoring updates – they will be posted to the Make Orange Green Facebook and Twitter, right here at the Office of Sustainability’s website, or by asking your RA – they’ll be getting a report card weekly.

Defining Sustainability

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit started today, September 25th, in New York, and will go on until September 27th. They are meeting to adopt a list of 17 sustainable development goals, focusing on the gamut of issues our world faces.

What you’ll notice when you scroll through the list is how widely the term “sustainable” is used.  As an office that promotes in “Sustainability,” we sometimes forget that this word can apply to everything from poverty to economic growth.  The dictionary definition of sustainability is the ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed.  Something that can be sustained, something that will last.  With regards to the environment, which is this office’s main focus, this translates into conserving resources and reducing our impact so as to ensure our world will be able to sustain us for the foreseeable future.  How does this term apply to the UN’s goals?

NPR’s Marc Silver goes to the pros to answer this question in his article: “What, Really, Does ‘Sustainable’ Mean?”  He observes that there are an endless amount of applications for sustainability.  Some of these goals relate directly toward environmental sustainability, but others seem to be unrelated.  Manish Bapna, the Executive Vice President of the World Resources Institute, assures us that there is a correlation: “tackling poverty and protecting the planet are inextricably linked.”  Things like food and water management, land preservation, and responsible production practices fall into both paths.  Food and water are basic human necessities, and they are from our environment.  Land degradation leads to the loss of resources, which leads to the loss of jobs and lifestyles.  Production practices affect the environment as well as the livelihoods and health of people.

You can find the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit agenda here. For a rundown of the goals, check out Jason Beaubien’s NPR article: “U.N. Dreams Big: 17 Huge New Goals To Build A Better World.”

Internship Opportunity: National Outdoor Leadership School

The National Outdoor Leadership School is opening up an internship in their Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability department for the Spring 2016 semester.

The internship is a unique position that will split time between an environmental stewardship position focusing on protecting the outdoor/wilderness areas NOLS operates in and a sustainability position focusing on reducing NOLS’ environmental impact.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, click here. Applications are due by October 23rd.

Clean Cycle: UT Making a Difference Globally

Clean Cycle is a project started by five undergraduate students from UT to help clean up trash along India’s roadways. The project began last fall in a service-learning class in the Haslam College of Business taught by Dr. Ernie Cadotte, the Fisher Professor of Innovative Learning.  The class teaches business management skills through experiential education and real-world applications.

The UT team is working with Manav Rachna College of Engineering in Haryana, India, and the Foundation for Liberal and Management Education (FLAME) School of Business in Pune, India.  Together, the students at UT, Manav Rachna, and FLAME designed a tricycle that is capable of carrying almost three times the load of local waste collectors.  These waste collectors make their living on refunds from the recyclable materials they gather.  The Clean Cycle program provides them with these tricycles, safety gear, and business plans aimed at growing the waste collectors’ enterprises.  The students in India also provide mentorship to the waste collectors, and consult regularly with the UT team on the status of the project.

The team at UT is currently made up of Wilson Waller, Katie Ruan, Manami Murphy, Jason Hinkle, and Harmeet Batth – all senior business majors.  The project was originally started by a different set of UT students, and has changed since its inception.  Initially, it was focused on increasing awareness of India’s waste problem here in the United States (especially to companies that provide goods to the country).  The project has since adapted from the original plan to better address the issues.  Hinkle, the project director for Clean Cycle, has emphasized that a big challenge in this project has been embracing flexibility – something he boasts is a big part of being an entrepreneur.

The Clean Cycle program is aligned with India’s efforts to clean up the country.  The Prime Minister of India, Narenda Modi, launched a Clean India campaign in response to the growing trash program in 2014, encouraging citizens to dispose of trash appropriately and clean up their communities.  Batth, the project’s field researcher, was born in India.  He connects India’s trash problem with its commercialization.  The United States faced the same trash troubles in the 1950s – people need to be taught not to litter.

Two of the UT students a part of the project got the opportunity to travel to Faridabad, India, this past summer to work with Professor Bindu Agrawal, the faculty leader at Manav Rachna University, on getting the project off the ground.  Agrawal will be here in Knoxville from September 21stth to share her experiences with the UT community on working together with different cultures to make good things happen.

For more information on this awesome project, check out the Tennessee Today article.

US Sets Aside $102 million for Clean Energy

Today, the US Department of Energy announced the US Government’s plans to allot more that $102 million in new projects and available funds for domestic clean energy innovation.  This investment builds on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which just put out its second anniversary progress report this past June.  The plan is focused on cutting carbon pollution and making the US a leader in clean energy.

The funds are broken up into different projects and potential projects in collaboration with companies, non-profits, universities, and national laboratories.  $7 million is going to six projects researching on the hardware involved in solar systems, focused on making it longer lasting and more predictable.  $32 million is going to fourteen projects focusing on making solar energy more cost effective, specific to “concentrating solar power” or how to store solar energy for use when the sun isn’t shining.  $13 million is going to two projects focused on cutting the red tape surrounding solar access.

The $50 million left goes to potential projects aimed at fostering rapid solar innovation and bringing new technologies to market.  Specifically $20 million towards improving PV module performance, reliability, and manufacturability, and $30 million towards supporting the development of new tools, technologies, and services.

This investment is a part of a greater push for clean energy in the US.  Obama’s Climate Action Plan and his focus on clean energies have seen the inception of a variety of programs, like the SunShot Initiative – focused on making solar energy cost-competitive with traditional energy sources, or the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan – focused on maintaining consistency and accountability nationwide in regulating and reducing carbon pollution from power plants.

To learn more about the investment in clean energies, check out the Department of Energy’s press release.