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Student Green Fee Projects

UT and the City of Knoxville jointly introduced Pace Bike Share as one of the many goals to reduce environmental impacts of the transportation system. To fully understand the impacts of the existing shared mobility services and any future shared mobility opportunities such as electric bicycle sharing, there is a need to collect information on what trips are being replaced by bike sharing.This project consisted of a quick and low-cost survey among Pace Bike Share users at UT and in Knoxville as starting point to understand the impacts of current and potential future shared mobility services regarding their use patterns.

In FY 16, the Office of Sustainability conducted a Hand Dryer feasibility study to provide insight into whether Building Services should switch from paper towel use to hand dryers in high traffic areas. The results of the study showed both a cost savings and workflow efficiency improvement opportunities for Building Services, with greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions resulting from reduced transportation of paper towels to campus and then to individual buildings. In May of 2018, the decision was made to use a portion of the rollover money from the Facilities Services FY 18 operating budget to remove the majority of campus paper towel dispensers and replace them with hand dryers in high traffic areas.

The Arboriculture Team at Facilities Services enhanced the University of Tennessee tree inventory database by upgrading to a cloud based tree inventory management software that provides the University access to the tree inventory database through any web enabled device such as tablets and smart phones. This Enterprise version of the software also includes a Community Viewer that allows the public to have read-only online access to the tree inventory database via a web browser.

The Grounds team within the Building Services unit in Facilities Services requested funds to purchase a weather station and supporting software, in addition to running a dedicated electric line to the station. Their findings have resulted in a preference to utilize a weather station that communicates with the Rain Bird irrigation system to ensure no over-watering occurs and excess water is no longer an issue on campus.

Sam Adams, the UT Arborist, requested the Green Fee to fund a purchase a 16″ capacity brush chipper, for the purpose of doubling the amount of wood and brush that can be chipped and used on campus wide composting projects, reducing wood waste going to the landfill by approximately 60%.

Since 2005-06, a significant portion of the Student Environmental Initiatives fee has been used to stimulate demand for renewable energy in the Tennessee Valley and southeastern United States. The university currently purchases 250,000 megawatt hours (MWh) per month of Green-e certified renewable energy credits (RECs) through the TVA Green Power Switch program.

The purchase makes UT an EPA Green Power Partner and one of the largest purchasers of green power in the Southeast.

With labor donated by the Facilities Services Department, this four-year, $384,000 project supported the installation of new lighting fixtures and controls that use about one-third less electricity and eliminate the need for excessive lighting in the Stokely Management Center (SMC). In addition, the project added daylight harvesting technology to the building so that the lighting dims as sunlight enters a space. These improvements have saved $56,000 a year based on 2003 electric rates.

Image of a highlighted map Image of a drone

The new Drone Project is an effort to further understand our campus and how to make it the most efficient it can be. By flying drones on campus, we are able to do a geothermal analysis on an entire building and see where heat is leaking out. From this data we can than assess where upgrades need to be made on insulation and sealing the buildings.

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The Green Database Project is a program that aspires to connect all sustainability-interested students on campus. By making a profile and filling in your interests, you will be able to see all individuals on campus who share similar interests with you, thereby furthering the connections and strengthening overall environmentalism on campus.


Students gardening in the Grow Lab

The Grow Lab is a new campus garden that started in Spring 2018. As a living laboratory, the Grow Lab promotes experiential and service learning, demonstrates ecological food production methods, and encourages community engagement. The garden is a place where UT students, faculty, staff, and Knoxville citizens participate in hands-on learning, engage in meaningful service, conduct research, and cultivate community.

Once complete, The Grow Lab will demonstrate ecological food production methods, address local food insecurity, contribute to a sense of place, and encourage interdisciplinary partnerships.

At the Grow Lab, half of the plots will be designated for specific academic courses, research, and university groups. The remaining plots will be maintained by staff and volunteers with produce donated to hunger-alleviating causes.

To learn more about the Grow Lab visit the official site page. 


Sponsored by the Green Fee and Visit Knoxville, Pace Bike Share was launched in Spring 2018. By downloading the free application on your phone, users are able to reserve bikes in 30 minute increments. Memberships are also available, where included in the UT discounted monthly rate of $14.50, members can reserve the bike unlimited times for rides under an hour. After that, rides cost $1 for every 30 minutes. Bikes can be “parked” anywhere around Knoxville, with roughly 20 official Pace Stations in the city, including 3 on campus.

A 78-foot long boardwalk now spans the middle pool of a created wetland at the UT Gardens. Wetlands are a natural filter for water moving through the landscape. The created wetland receives runoff from an uphill parking area as well as the surrounding manicured gardens, helping to protect the Tennessee River against nonpoint source pollution originating from these areas.

The project is a demonstration for homeowners as well as for municipal governments hoping to turn a drainage problem into a landscaping amenity. The project will soon display signage that helps visitors understand the complexity of the built environment as they experience a wetland ecosystem just off Neyland Drive.

The created wetland was made possible through a grant from the Tennessee Stormwater Association, design and construction oversight by faculty and staff, construction from Facility Services, and nearly 1200 hours of effort from UT Wildlife & Fisheries Science students. Friends of the UT Gardens volunteer to maintain the wetland to prevent against invasive species establishment.

The project is a collaboration of faculty and staff in Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science, Plant Science, and Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries Departments as well as Facility Services at UT. Special thanks to the Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization for assistance during wetland construction and to the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment for support of future research. For more information, visit

We always have numerous projects in the works. We have featured a few here on this website, but you can request a list of all of the projects our office has completed at