UT Knoxville Announces 10 Percent Goal for Switch Your Thinking Energy Saving Campaign

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is calling on faculty and staff to change the way they look at energy in a campaign designed to reduce campus energy consumption by 10 percent this year — a move that would save the university more than $1 million from its campus energy budget.

Called “Switch Your Thinking,” the campaign sets an ambitious goal by calling on faculty, staff and students to take four simple steps to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the campus.

UT Knoxville Interim Chancellor Jan Simek said the campaign is good for the environment, and for the bottom line.

“This campaign comes at a critical time for our campus and for the environment,” said Simek. “Using less energy on campus will have a major impact on our budget, as well as helping keep our air cleaner and fighting climate change.”

Over the past five years, UT Knoxville has undertaken a major energy-saving focus in its facilities work, highlighted by a multi-year project to replace lighting in the Stokely Management Center on campus. Originally built in 1972, the building included a lighting system that could not be turned off.

Switch Your Thinking — part of UT Knoxville’s Make Orange Green program — kicked off with a ceremonial flipping of a light switch to turn the lights off in SMC for the first time in more than 30 years, symbolic of one of the four main ways faculty and staff can save energy at UT Knoxville:

– Turning off lights when not in the office for more than one hour.
– Turning off computers when not in the office for more than an hour.
– Using a power strip in the office, and turning it off at the end of each day.
– Turning off window AC units at the end of each day.

“By joining together in this campaign we can become more responsible both fiscally and ethically,” said John Nolt, president of the UT Knoxville Faculty Senate. “These four steps are simple to follow, yet they will have significant environmental and economic benefits.”

Since 2005, as part of UT Knoxville’s student environmental facilities fee, the campus has spent more than $1 million on various campus energy-saving projects, including approximately $500,000 for the Stokely Management Center project.

Lights in that building now will be controlled by automatic sensors that can detect when someone is present in a room, and adjust the lights accordingly — including adjusting to compensate for natural light entering a room.

In spite of these improvements, though, the UT Knoxville facilities services department notes that a change in behavior and attitudes campuswide is key to reducing energy consumption.

“We will continue making upgrades throughout campus,” said Mike Sherrell, UT Knoxville facilities services director, “but this campaign will reduce our energy consumption immediately — and that’s when we need it.”


Contacts:

Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)