Dec 6 2007
09:10 pm

I would like to take the opportunity to lead a couple of cheers for energy and sustainability at the local level. The transit center information (thanks Randy for the story and link) contains this bit of good news that some might not notice amidst the drawings. "The building will be LEED certified meaning that it will use less energy than conventional buildings and will be built with sustainable building practices." The center will introduce an AVL system (GPS based) which will locate buses and tell riders at which gate the their bus will arrive and at what time. This will not only provide convenience for riders. It will also lead to less idling time and less air pollution. Of course the idea of the transit center is to help enhance the system and attract more riders (and reduce automobile trips).

The second piece of news in re: sustainability is city's decision to invest almost $800k in LED lights for all traffic signals. This represents a huge energy savings. After a 2.5 year payback the city will realize a significant yearly savings in in energy and labor costs. Of course while the cash savings is great the reduced demand for electricity represents environmental as well as economic value.


This was an initiative of the mayor's 15-member Energy & Sustainability Task Force - including members from the City of Knoxville, Knox County, TVA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Knoxville Utilities Board and environmental groups. They have been charged with developing a strategic plan for reducing energy consumption and enhancing the City's overall environmental sustainability. The group will convene next Wednesday to discuss the finding of the recently conducted energy and emissions inventory. (That was fun to watch. Part involved UT students and other volunteers counting every piece of trash leaving the City County building.)

This group is chaired by Madeleine Weil, deputy director of Policy & Communications. She has also been a prime help in helping guide the Transit Center design to follow LEED guidelines.

Some of you may remember my introducing her on KnoxViews last year. Madeleine has been in my dept. for almost a year, during which time she has had a major impact, not only regarding downtown, but in leading the sustainability initiative. She came from New Haven Connecticut where she was involved in both city and state efforts dealing with climate change and sustainability. She has a Masters in Environmental Planning from Yale.

Factchecker's picture


Thank you, Bill, and thanks to Madeleine, the task force, and to Mayor Haslam. I was going to suggest the $8M surplus be used in part to do more of these kind of things (--that and continuing the moratorium on annexations). The payoffs could be great. I hope that every such success will lead to further activities toward the greening of Knoxville. It IS about efficiency and sustainability.

P.S. It sounds like you got a good one here in Ms. Weil. Congrats on the find. Hope she likes it here to stay a long time.

jbr's picture

Will this AVL system enable

Will this AVL system enable riders at stops to see where their bus is on the route via laptops, PDA, or cell phones with that capability?

Bill Lyons's picture

AVL and street lights

I don't know the operational details for the AVL system but the first step is to provide the information at the transit center. Obviously the technology is pretty robust and extensions are probably likely at some point.

In regard to the placement of street lights, some areas obviously need more lighting than others. Of course all lights are not all the same in brightness and energy consumption. This topic certainly falls within the range of topic considered by the task force.

Brian A.'s picture


A question marginally-related to the traffic light/energy issue:

How does a city or utility decide on how many street lights to put in a particular area? And how much electricity do those lights consume?

Brian A.
I'd rather be cycling.

Carole Borges's picture

LEED certification is important...

The folks over at Knox Housing Partnership will be building 7 homes in Five Points that will all be LEED certified. They will be the first to be so designated in TN.

According to the US Green Building Council "about 2 million homes are constructed each year. According to the US Dept. of Energy, the residential sector accounts for 22% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. and 74% of the water. Indoor pollutants can be four to five times higher than outdoor levels. Twenty-one per cent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are contributed by the residential sector....Green homnes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient."

Knoxville can be proud to be a supporter of LEED construction.

Here's a link to the LEED site. It makes for fascinating reading.

Up Goose Creek's picture


Obviously the technology is pretty robust and extensions are probably likely at some point.

That is good to know. Do you know if there are low cost beepers that can notify a rider that a bus is approaching? Or that they just missed the bus so they might as well walk or go home and get the car? The waiting can be stress inducing.

Less is the new More - Karrie Jacobs

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