2021 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award Winners Announced
Gov. Bill Lee and TDEC Commissioner David Salyers announced the winners of the 2021 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards (GESA). This program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect the environment and natural resources with actions not required by law or regulation. The winners in each respective category include:
  • The City of Kingsport – Natural Resources
  • Clayton Savannah – Materials Management
  • Coffee County Soil Conservation District – Agriculture and Forestry
  • Cumberland River Compact – Water Quality
  • Nokia Tyres Dayton – Sustainable Performance
  • Tennessee Tech University – Building Green
  • Trevecca Nazarene University – Environmental Education and Outreach
  • Vanderbilt University – Energy Renewable Resources
Knoxville Utilities Board, Metro Nashville Department of General Services, and Tennsco were also recognized with Pursuit of Excellence Awards; this award recognizes past award winners that continue to demonstrate a high regard for environmental stewardship. Click here to read more about the GESA program.
Lipscomb Academy Lower School Wins 2021 NEED Project Youth Awards
TDEC OEP is the State coordinator for the National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project, which promotes energy education among students, educators, and civic leaders through the design and delivery of energy education programs. NEED works with energy companies, government agencies, and community organizations to bring balanced energy programs to the nation’s schools. NEED honors schools across the country through its NEED Project Youth Awards for Energy Achievement, a competition in which teachers take their energy education programs beyond the classroom and encourage students to engage in school and community outreach to share what they have learned about energy efficiency and conservation.

In June, the Lipscomb Academy Lower School in Nashville was named the 2021 NEED Project Youth Awards’ State and National Primary School of the Year. To view Lipscomb Academy’s project, “Lipscomb Green Team,” click here. Michie Elementary in Michie, TN was also recognized as a 2021 National Elementary Finalist. To view Michie Elementary’ s project, “Conservation of Energy,” click here. Learn more about the NEED Project Youth Awards here.
First Smart Factory Institute in the U.S. to Open in Chattanooga
Peak Performance Inc., along with the Tennessee Chamber/Tennessee Manufacturers Association and Deutsche Messe Technology Academy will open the nation’s first Smart Factory Institute on October 1 (National Manufacturing Day) in Chattanooga at the Volkswagen Academy. The Smart Factory Institute will work closely with the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Industrial and Organizational Psychology program to provide subject matter experts and best practices to approaching workforce advancements. With assistance from both the university and the private sector, the Institute will provide participants with connections, collaborative relationships, and certifications for bettering manufacturing processes. The Institute, which is part of a network of international academies operated by the Deutsche Messe Technology Academy in Hanover, Germany, will also provide manufacturers with access to the latest technology in advanced manufacturing and will offer opportunities for workshops, networking, and other collaborative activities. A free informational webinar will be held on August 13. Click here to register.
EBP, KUB Named Top Utilities in Tennessee Valley for Energy Savings, Carbon Reduction
TVA recently recognized several Tennessee local power companies for efforts to reduce energy costs and pollution. It named the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB) as the top utility in the Tennessee Valley focused on helping customers save energy on electricity bills last year through the TVA EnergyRight program. Among the 153 local power companies that distribute power in TVA’s service territory, EPB accounted for nearly one-fourth of all energy savings realized by residential and industrial customers through energy savings audits, loans, and assistance programs offered by TVA in fiscal year 2020. Buoyed by virtual energy audits EPB launched last year, the utility helped its customers save more than 18.5 million kWh of electricity through EnergyRight programs.
Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB), which contracted last year to purchase 20% of its electricity by 2023 from solar farms under TVA’s Green Invest program, was also recognized as the top utility in the Tennessee Valley in terms of  carbon emission reductions, having reducing its carbon output by 173,664 tons in 2020. Click here to read more about these announcements and TVA’s efforts to promote efficiency and clean energy in the Tennessee Valley.
Low Power Nuclear Demonstration Reactor Coming to Oak Ridge
Governor Bill Lee, the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, and advanced nuclear engineering company Kairos Power announced the development of a low-power demonstration nuclear reactor in Oak Ridge. Kairos Power will invest $100 million and create 55 jobs to deploy the low-power demonstration reactor, called Hermes, at the East Tennessee Technology Park to demonstrate the company’s capability to deliver low-cost nuclear heat. Scheduled to be operational in 2026, the Hermes reactor is a scaled version of Kairos Power’s advanced Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor technology, which aims to be cost competitive with natural gas in the U.S. electricity market to provide carbon-free affordable energy. Design, licensing, and construction of the Hermes reactor is supported by a $303 million award from the U.S. DOE Office of Nuclear Energy. Click here to read more about Kairos Energy and its reactor technology.
Tennessee Entities Receive Funding for Clean Energy Technologies
U.S. DOE recently announced it will award $57 million to 51 American small businesses and entrepreneurs through phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. This program supports the research and development of innovative clean energy technologies toward commercialization. The Tennessee-based entities included in this round of awards include:
  • Active Energy Systems, Inc. in Knoxville will receive $1,099,810.00 to develop icephobic heat exchange technology for efficient, resilient building cooling.
  • Cryomagnetics, Inc. in Oak Ridge will receive $1,040,390.00 to develop high field hybrid superconducting magnet technology using Bi-2212.
  • Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation in Knoxville will receive $1,149,878.00 to develop an online monitoring system to support autonomous remote microreactor operations.
Click here to learn more about the SBIR and STTR programs. Click here for a full list of awards.
Additionally, U.S. DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced Phase 1 selections for their Waste-to-Energy Technical Assistance for Local Governments Program. This program was created to mobilize national laboratory analysis and technical expertise around energy and resource recovery from organic waste streams. The insights and analyses will provide an avenue for municipalities to make informed decisions about closing waste loops and generating additional value streams from waste. The Interlocal Solid Waste Authority, which services Franklin, Bedford, Lincoln, and Moore Counties as well as the City of Tullahoma with waste disposal and recycling services, was selected as one of 16 local government entities to receive strategic planning support, quantification of local organic waste resources, and mitigation approaches for localized environmental impacts. Click here to see a full list of awardees.
Webinar: Statewide Energy Incentives and Programs
The Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council (TAEBC) will host a Statewide Energy Incentives and Programs webinar on August 3 from 9:00 AM-10:00 AM Central. This webinar will include a conversation with key stakeholders about energy programs, incentives, and policies facing business leaders and entrepreneurs across the state. The webinar intends to guide communication and outreach efforts regarding advanced energy, ensure business leaders and entrepreneurs are aware of energy-related programs accessible to them and how to maximize resources, help stakeholders understand how to navigate energy-related programs at a State and federal level, and increase feedback regarding existing energy incentives and desired incentives. Click here to register.
Urban Runoff 5k
Nashville’s Metro Water Services, the City of Gallatin, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, TDEC, and the Tennessee Stormwater Association have teamed up to host the Urban Runoff 5k run on August 7 at 7:30 AM Central. The run is being held at Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Center in East Nashville and will weave its way past several innovative stormwater management structures. An educational Water Quality Festival will be held concurrently that will provide entertainment and information for attendees. The race will be chip-timed and held in rain or shine. For additional details or to register, click here. Registration for the race is $35.
The Great Indoors Smart Summer Sweepstakes
TVA is offering individuals in its service territory the chance to win an energy-efficient home appliance package. Through August 8, TVA will be accepting entries to win a selection of prizes, including weekly prizes for camping gear and smart indoor/outdoor outlets as well as an energy-efficient home appliance package grand prize worth $4,000. Through social media interaction, applicants may submit up to 15 entries for the sweepstakes. Click here to enter.
Virtual Workshop: Social Inequality in Energy, Environment, and Technology
The University of Tennessee Center for the Study of Social Justice (CSSJ) will host a virtual workshop on Social Inequity in Energy, Environment, and Technology on August 13 at 9:00 AM Eastern. The workshop will feature a series of lightning talks delivered by faculty members, followed by a discussion between participants to identify future research goals and next steps. Participants will discuss environmental and energy justice, technology adoption, social inequality, and the impacts of these injustices on life and society.
The purpose of this workshop is to bring potential collaborators together and stimulate conversation around environmental and energy injustices, share ongoing research initiatives, and build a community of interest with whom the CSSJ can communicate emerging research opportunities. Topics of discussion may include focuses on environment and technology, energy burdens, economic and socio-demographic factors, mental and physical health, and pandemic impacts. Click here to register.
JUMP into STEM Call for Professors
JUMP into STEM is an online university and college student competition that aims to inspire the next generation of building scientists and encourage diversity in the field by attracting a variety of fields of study and backgrounds. Any undergraduate or graduate student affiliated with a U.S. academic institution is eligible. Student teams submit written responses to challenges developed by the program’s Professor Team. Three new challenges impacting the current state of building science are released each fall.

The competition is seeking university and college professors to join the competition’s Professor Team and integrate JUMP into STEM challenges into their Fall 2021 class coursework. Members of the Professor Team are a critical link to connect students with the competition. They help shape the competition’s challenges to best fit with their curriculum requirements and are invited to monthly meetings to receive competition updates and discuss best practices within the Professor Team network. Click here to learn more about JUMP into STEM’s Professor Team.

TREEDC 2021 Annual Conference
The Tennessee Renewable Energy & Economic Development Council (TREEDC) will hold its annual conference at Tennessee Tech University from December 9-10. This year’s conference will  will include panel presentations and discussions on post-pandemic economic recovery resources, COVID-19 assistance programs, and lessons learned from Tennessee mayors during the pandemic. The event will also recognize 2021 TREEDC Champion Award winners and will feature exhibitors, networking opportunities, and introductions to start-up companies that are part of the TREEDC network. Click here to see the draft agenda. Click here to learn more about the event. TREEDC members who are interested in presenting at the conference should contact TREEDC President Dwain Land at 423-718-3435.
CELICA Toolkit: Clean Energy Solutions for Low Income Communities
The U.S. DOE Better Buildings’ Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA) Toolkit provides an overview of the tools, resources, and models used by U.S. DOE CELICA partners to develop low-income energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The toolkit provides materials to help program administrators reduce energy burden for low-income communities by enhancing and expanding upon work funded through utility, State, or federal programs. These materials are the product of CELICA’s two-year partnership with over 30 stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and focuses on program development activities such as stakeholder engagement, community assessment and barriers analyses, action planning, and metrics and indicators.
Visit the TDEC Office of Energy Programs Website at
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