Apr 16, 2012

Big props goes out to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, for receiving the Presidential Award from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)! Focus The Nation's own Focus Coordinators Nick Alderson and Maria Rosales, along with UT's Sustainability Manager, Gordie Bennet accepted the award last week on behalf of the University. The Presidential Award is given to the largest purchaser of green power from TVA. According to the Tennessee Today:

The university purchased nine megawatt hours of green power from TVA last year. That is the equivalent of eliminating the yearly greenhouse gas emissions from 1,535 passenger vehicles, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Green power purchases allow consumers to help ensure renewable energy from wind, solar, and landfill gas is added to TVA’s power supply.
TVA and local power companies, working in cooperation with the environmental community, developed Green Power Switch as a way to bring cleaner, greener power to the Tennessee Valley, explains Jenny Wright, product manager for TVA’s Green Power Switch.
Read more here about the program and award. While you're at it, check out this recent blog by Maria herself, talking about the next big push that students are making as they move Tennessee towards a cleaner and more energy efficient future. And if you're in the Knoxville area, check out their Gettin' Green, Savin' Green: Energy Efficiency at UT forum  on April 17th or follow what they are doing at their F2A page.

Apr 06, 2012

What would you do if you had a million dollars? It's not often that students in college are faced with that question, but this is what we're trying to accomplish. 

At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, students have been lucky enough to push for sustainability on campus.Too often, students across the county spend time fighting against dirty energy, but here in Tennessee we've been able to focus our efforts on creating solutions to add renewable energy to the grid. Through student-led campaigns, we have a green fee that has invested in sustainable projects on campus. This green fee has allowed us to invest in on-site renewable energy, water conservation, green power, and other projects. This is all because students are putting their money where their mouth is: they are paying money from their tuition for a clean energy future. Together, students have made our university the largest green power purchaser in the state of Tennessee. I’m always really excited to tell people that we are the ones pushing the shift to a clean energy economy.
Although we have done a lot of great things, we have a long ways to go. This summer, we decided that our green fee wasn't enough. If we wanted to be leaders in sustainability and "Make Orange Green" we needed to step up and make some real investments. We’re working with administrators to get them to sign the Billion Dollar Green Challenge, a nationwide campaign where universities set up a revolving fund to collectively raise a billion dollars towards energy efficiency.
Our students at the University of Tennessee are doing their part by trying to raise a million dollars! I don’t know about you, but there aren't many twentysomethings who talk in terms of millions. Since then, we have been meeting with more students, talked to our chancellor, and met with many administrators. Together, we are trying to get a million dollars to spend in energy efficiency projects. Through these projects, we would be able to reduce our energy consumption which would equal a reduction in utility bills. The savings would then go back into a fund to be invested into more energy efficiency. Since meeting with our administrators, we decided that we needed to bring everyone together. So, on April 17th, through the Forums-to-Action program, we're hosting an event called, "Gettin' Green, Savin' Green: Energy Efficiency at UT". Through this forum, we hope to bring everyone together to discuss the need for energy efficiency and what it would look like to have a revolving fund at the University of Tennessee. We hope that this will bring everyone together so we can raise a million! 
Maria Rosales is a 2011 Recharge! Delegate and 2011-12 F2A Focus Coordinator at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.