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Being the largest university in the state of Tennessee, it’s no surprise that our energy footprint can be rather large. For our campus to reach its sustainability goals, we must take responsibility for how our energy is generated and how we utilize it.

Green Revolving Fund

Enacted in 2013 with an initial investment of $100,000, the Green Revolving Fund has been used to finance projects that reduce UT’s energy use. These funds are used for retrofitting and energy-saving projects in campus buildings. After the return on investment (ROI) is met, the additional savings over a five-year period are placed back into the Revolving Fund for future project funding.

Energy Use

The Sustainability Master Plan states that our campus energy goal is to reduce energy consumption to 1992-93 levels by 2030. This goal aims to reduce our usage to 15kWh per square foot of campus. The graph below shows the kWh of energy consumed per square foot throughout the years.

Clean Energy

The University of Tennessee aims to increase renewable energy procurement to make up at least 20% of total electricity use by 2030. Achieving this goal would lower the carbon footprint of the University by ~19%. Here are some examples of sustainable energy projects currently happening on campus.

Sustainable Building Policy

Silver LEED certification icon

This policy establishes the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system as the standard for new construction and major renovation projects at UT that cost more than $5 million. Under the policy, all such projects must be designed to meet the minimum requirements of LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations (LEED-NC). Small-scale renovations utilize the LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) rating system as applicable.

LEED Silver Certified Buildings

Energy Conservation

In order to ensure UT’s buildings operate with the lowest environmental impact possible, the energy conservation policy states that temperatures in campus will buildings must be set to 68 degrees during warming seasons and to 76 degrees during cooling seasons. Enacted in 2008, this policy identifies energy conservation as a significant issue for UT and outlines steps to manage and reduce campus energy consumption. Every degree change in the heating season shaves 2 percent from the overall energy use, while each degree change in cooling season saves 4 percent. Read more about this and other policies.

Tips to Conserve Energy

  1. Turn off your computer when you are not using it for long periods of time, or put it on sleep mode for shorter periods when it is not in use.
  2. Keep blinds closed during the summer for a cooler room.
  3. Open the blinds during the winter months for natural light and to have the sun help heat up your room.
  4. Turn the lights off when you leave the room.
  5. Use a power strip for all appliances and turn it off when not in use.
  6. Add an extra layer before you turn the heat up.
  7. Schedule printing, copying, and other energy-intensive office work for after 11:00 a.m. in the winter and before 2:00 p.m. in the summer.
  8. Cook and reheat food with microwaves instead of conventional ovens.
  9. When possible, take the stairs and limit your use of elevators.
  10. Power down unused computers and other electronic appliances, set computers to sleep mode when not in use for ten minutes or more.
    More information on energy vampires.

Diagram of energy saving locations.


Peak times for energy use are determined by the Tennessee Valley Authority and vary by season. Peak energy use billing, which became mandatory for TVA’s largest customers in 2011, provides the campus with an opportunity to save on energy costs by adjusting study, work, and play habits.


Thermostat set to 68 degrees

During the winter months, peak energy hours are from 5am-11am, and run Mondays through Fridays between December 1st to March 31st.


Thermostat set to 76 degrees

During the summer, peak energy hours are from 2pm- 8:30pm therefore it is best to plan high energy activities for the morning.