Knoxville LED Street Light Project

Last night (Tuesday, June 20), City Council approved a contract to retrofit Knoxville’s nearly 30,000 streetlights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs), setting the City on a path to save $2 million a year while greatly reducing carbon emissions.

Mayor Madeline Rogero proposed the project in her 2017-18 budget. “Our streetlights are one of City government’s largest energy users, accounting for nearly 40 percent of our total municipal electricity consumption,” the Mayor said.

The Office of Sustainability, working with KUB, developed the plan to cut in half the approximately $4 million the City currently spends each year to operate and maintain the streetlight system.

Council approved a $9,548,215 contract with Siemens to perform turn-key design and installation services for the new LED lights, beginning with an extensive design phase that includes test/demo installations of new lights for evaluation by the City and public stakeholders.

Once the design phase is complete, Siemens expects to begin installation of new lights across the city in late 2017 or early 2018. According to the contract terms, all work is expected to be complete by June 30, 2019. Siemens was selected to provide the turn-key design and installation services for the Streetlight Replacement Project through a competitive procurement process that began in fall 2016.

By retrofitting Knoxville’s streetlights to LED technology, the City will save money, reduce energy use, and take a major step toward exceeding its goal of reducing municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. With anticipated energy and maintenance cost savings of $2 million annually, the investment will pay for itself in less than a decade.

Concurrent with the design of the new LED lights, the City will also work with KUB to arrange to reimburse the utility for approximately $5 million of past infrastructure investments in the lighting system.

Currently, Knoxville streetlights are outfitted with high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs, which have an average lifespan of 24,000 hours. LEDs last considerably longer, with many fixtures rated to operate for 100,000-plus hours and backed by 10-year manufacturer warranties. LEDs use much less energy to provide the same amount of light as HPS bulbs, thereby offering energy savings of upwards of 50 percent.

LEDs also give off a whiter light than traditional HPS bulbs and shine light more directionally, so that light goes where it is needed.

“This project will help us improve the overall design of our lighting system,” says Office of Sustainability Director Erin Gill. “Instead of illuminating the sky and trees with an orange glow, we can focus light where we need it: on streets and sidewalks. The clear, whiter color of LED light provides better visibility and color rendering than HPS bulbs, making it easier to see people and objects in the roadway.”

Gill adds that the street light replacement project will follow guidelines and best practices outlined by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the International Dark Skies Alliance. These organizations recommend luminaires with a color temperature of approximately 3,000K (degrees Kelvin), comparable to a 100-watt halogen bulb, as opposed to the cool blue light of LED headlights (6,400K) or a bright compact florescent bulb (4,000K). The majority of lights will be fully shielded fixtures that emit no light upward, and backlight control shields may be implemented where needed to help direct light away from nearby windows.

“These new LED lights, over 50 percent more efficient than those currently installed throughout Knoxville, will not only provide residents with better visibility and safer streets but will significantly reduce the impact lighting has the city’s bottom line,” said Marcus Welz, CEO of Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems. “Infrastructure improvements like this are excellent ways for cities across the country to improve quality of life for their citizens, save a significant amount in energy costs and meet their sustainability goals.”

During the design phase, there will be multiple opportunities through public meetings and the demonstration installation for local residents and businesses to review and comment on the new proposed lighting. Additionally, project staff can be available to discuss the project and LED lighting plans with neighborhoods and other community groups. As the streetlight project progresses, the City will post updates online at

(press release)

5/19/2017: Knoxville Bike To Work Day

Friday, May 19 is National Bike to Work Day, and people making their commutes on two wheels are invited to stop by Market Square. To refuel participants, Trio Café will donate coffee and free treats will be available between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

Bike to Work Day is a way for people who have considered biking to work, whether to save money or to improve their health, to try it out. Bike convoys leave from north, south, east and west locations and offer guided, casual paced rides to Market Square. See for a list of meeting locations. Those interested can either ride from home or drive to a convoy meeting location and then bike in with the group.

“We love seeing new bike commuters on Bike to Work Day,” says Kelley Segars, Principal Planner with the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization. “Often, learning the route and meeting people to ride with will encourage someone to make it a habit.”

If downtown is not your destination or if 8 a.m. is not your start time, there are other ways to get a “thank you for biking” on Bike to Work Day. Many local businesses are offering a free cup of coffee or other item all day on May 19th to people who bike to work. Other discounts are available throughout May to anyone with an I Bike KNX helmet sticker, available by taking a safe biking pledge online, at Mast General Store, or at Three Rivers Market.

Bike commuting has seen a growing popularity in Knoxville. In the past year, more than 100 individuals logged bike trips with Smart Trips, an online program that encourages alternatives to driving alone. Collectively, they biked more than 127,000 miles, saved nearly 3,000 gallons of gas, and kept more than 58,000 pounds of greenhouse gases out of our air. They also burned 3 million calories and saved $15,000.

For more details, see:

(press release)

Bonnaroo 2016 Sustainability Recap

Bonnaroo 2016 was successful yet again with their sustainability efforts. Each year the carbon foot print of the festival decreases by new means such as refillable cups and VAC toilets. Thousands of plastic bottles were spared from being deposited into landfills last year due to donated reusable cups. VAC toilets dramatically decreased the amount of water used this year by “flushing” waste with a vacuum system as opposed to using tons of water.

According to Bonnaroo’s 2016 sustainability report, 65% of waste (by weight) was diverted from a landfill. In total, 155 tons of recycling/reuse and 536 tons of wastefood recovery were diverted from a landfill because of CleanVibes volunteers. During the festival, volunteers with CleanVibes maintain waste stations consisting of recycling, compost and landfill containers. Their goal is to keep as much waste out of the landfill as possible while teaching attendees about recycling/composting. Only 189 tons of festival waste made it to the landfill in 2016.

One of the beneficiaries of the food recovery efforts was the Grundy County (TN) food bank. The 9 ton food donation was able to provide meals for over 200 families.

If we all took just one extra measure a day to help our planet and mankind, there would be a significant positive difference in our surroundings a behavior towards each other.

It was great seeing the positive sustainability outcomes from last year that will lay the ground for a fruitful and earth friendly Bonnaroo 2017. Can’t wait to see you there!

Knoxville EarthFest 2017

Rain or shine, the 18th annual EarthFest will be held on Saturday, April 15 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, 2743 Wimpole Ave. As always, it’s a free, zero-waste event for the whole family.

During the event, attendees can learn about sustainable living while enjoying environmental exhibits and attractions, an interactive educational scavenger hunt, and a youth area with free activities for kids of all ages.

Those who’ve attended in the past will notice the change in venue. The annual festival has previously been held at The Cove at Concord Park, Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley campus and most recently at the World’s Fair Park. EarthFest is excited to celebrate Earth Day at the Knoxville Botanical Garden, which offers plenty of green space, views of the mountains and access to public transportation.

​Onsite events and activities include:

  • Exhibits hosted by local environmentally-friendly businesses, organizations and non-profits
  • Buskers and acoustic musicians performing live music throughout the gardens
  • Educational scavenger hunt for a chance to win prizes
  • Youth area with free kids crafts and activities
  • Nature-themed “Story Thyme” for kids of all ages in the Secret Garden
  • Local food vendors
  • Clean Fuel Vehicle Showcase
  • Goodwill pop-up shop
  • Knoxville Botanical Garden vermicomposting demo
  • Tree give away from the City of Knoxville Tree Board (while supplies last)
  • So much more! For a full list of onsite events and activities visit:

For a detailed list of sponsors, parking info, scavenger hunt prizes and more visit:

(Press Release)

Two New Public Artworks Coming To Downtown Knoxville

If you’re an advocate for more public art in downtown Knoxville, you’ll be eagerly awaiting installation to begin in coming months on two new projects – a dramatic metal wall hanging in the 500 block of South Gay Street and an elaborately painted staircase on the western edge of downtown.

Artists for the two projects were selected by the City of Knoxville’s Public Arts Committee – the panel that’s adding public art throughout the downtown area, supported by City funding. The two newest projects, to be installed within six months of the contracts being signed, are:

11th Street Stairs

A contract for up to $15,000 is being finalized with Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, a Baltimore-based team that will be transforming the 43 steps, 10 feet across, south of Cumberland Avenue at 11th Street. During peak hours, the stairs are used by thousands of pedestrians as they traverse the Second Creek Greenway to access World’s Fair Park, the University of Tennessee or downtown Knoxville.

Since 2011, Unterhalter and Truhn have been creating large-scale public murals. Their plan for the 11th Street Stairs pays tribute to the craft revival movement that took hold throughout Knoxville and most of Appalachia from the 1890s through 1945.

“The intricate and experimental loom weaving coming out of Knoxville really caught our attention and inspired our design process,” the artists wrote in their proposal. “The varying but consistent patterning within our piece makes the work come alive, but it’s still methodical and organized because we worked within the grid format, just like the weavers did.”

The design will strike pedestrians differently, depending on what direction they’re walking.

“We thought a lot on how the viewer would experience this piece,” Unterhalter and Truhn wrote. “We considered all vantage points. We created two different compositions for each end of the staircase. Both designs come together to create one beautiful painted tapestry.”

The artist team was selected as the most qualified of 21 respondents to the committee’s Request For Qualifications. From those 21 responses, three artists were asked for specific designs, and Unterhalter and Truhn ultimately were selected.

The 11th Street Stairs are likely going to be painted this summer.

Gay Street

Mecosta, Mich., artist Robert Barnum’s “Rhythm of Knoxville” design was selected by the committee, subject to finalization of a contract for up to $10,000.

Barnum has installed large public art pieces in seven states. His weather-resistant metal hanging would adorn a 12-by-7-foot overhead rectangular slab of white concrete, framed by red brick, above the pedestrian walkway that connects South Gay Street with the State Street Garage.

“My design agenda is to work beyond the static nature of the rectangular support wall shape with an organic driven visual statement that suggests a lively and energetic implied movement, rhythm and flow,” Barnum writes in his proposal. “As presented, the ‘Rhythm of Knoxville’ presents a couple strolling to a picnic with a young boy playing ball and a woman swimming. This left side content flows into a tree form that marries the music/theater and entertainment character of the city area.”

The Public Arts Committee evaluated 15 submissions from artists and selected Barnum as the most qualified artist for the Gay Street public art project.

Source: Knoxville City Press Release

Knoxville Area Women’s Rights Marches

Below are several local events that are occurring this week to support the Women’s March in Washington.  Please check out!

1) Women and Allies March  UT

Fri, January 20, 2017   12:30 PM – 2:30 PM EST

University of Tennessee
UT Humanities Amphitheater (March will end at the Torchbearer Statue)
Knoxville, TN 37996

Please join us in supporting the Women’s March on Washington at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Campus. This event will be held the day before the historic March in Washington on January 20, 2017 (the Women’s March on Washington will be held in Washington, DC on January 21, 2017).

2) January 20, 2017 at 10 to 10:30PM  at West Town Mall come and show your support for the buses leaving for the Washington DC Women’s March

Saturday, January 21, 2017

1:00 – 3:00 PM, Market Square

(Sign up begins at 12:30)

Facebook site for Knoxville’s march:

Statement of purpose for Knoxville march:

A march in support of women’s rights, safety, and health, and in solidarity with the national Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on the same date. 


4) Anderson County Event

Standing in Solidarity Event on January 21st

We’d like to invite everyone to the “Standing in Solidarity” event at the Oak Ridge Unitarian Church on January 21st. Many people have been wondering what they can do to get more involved since Trump “won” the “election” in November. Here is YOUR chance!

Facebook Page Link: