The Center for Sustainable Business and Tourism (CSBT) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received a second year of financial support from Ruby Falls to continue and expand its sustainability efforts.
Ruby Falls, located more than 1,120 feet beneath the surface, is the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public and one of Chattanooga’s leading tourist destinations.
Ruby Falls has long embraced a philosophy of environmental stewardship and beneficial reuse, beginning in 1928, with the facility’s development. The limestone excavated from the elevator shaft and cave trails was used to build the Ruby Falls Cavern Castle.
Today, Ruby Falls continues its commitment to the environment through efforts designed to save energy and reduce waste and greenhouse-gas emissions. Solar panels produce 16,000 kwh of renewable energy per year and achieve an equivalent reduction of gasoline usage of more than 9,000 gallons. Energy-efficient LED and compact fluorescent lights (CFL) are used throughout the facility. Automatic timers ensure that the lights are on only when needed. The use of green lighting and timers has reduced Ruby Falls’ power consumption by 24 percent.
Ruby Falls also has purchased a hybrid (gas-electric) vehicle and now hosts one of Chattanooga’s first electric vehicle charging stations.
“We are tremendously excited about supporting and collaborating with CSBT,” said Hugh Morrow Jr., president of Ruby Falls LLC. “Our donation will help the center further advance its initiatives to develop sustainable business models and promote green tourism destinations in the Southeast.”
Morrow insists that Ruby Falls’ “environmental journey will never be complete.” Nevertheless, the facility has made enough progress to be the first US tourist destination to complete the Green Globe/Green Certification program.
“We sincerely welcome the opportunity to continue our partnership with Hugh and Ruby Falls,” said Rachel Chen, CSBT director, and associate professor in the Department of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. CSBT is housed within UT’s Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment.
CSBT provides operational solutions, improves quality of life, and develops sustainable business models and green tourism via interdisciplinary research, community collaboration, leadership, and education.