An environmental resource for East Tennessee Business

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Employees of a Kingsport glass making company are saying they have not been paid, with one employee saying some haven't been paid for weeks and even then some of the paychecks have bounced, according to a story by Nick Shepherd of the Kingsport Times News.

Heritage Glass in Kingsport is the only U.S. manufacturuer of solar panel glass.

The Tennessee Department of Labor reports four wage complaints from employees.

2015 Green Achievers

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Congratulations to our 2015 Green Achievers! Their stories are featured in the May Business Journal and available at the links below.

Harrison Construction is putting 20,000 tons of recycled asphalt back on the road as part of its Western Avenue paving project. The company also keeps construction and materials out the landfill by recycling concrete, brick, and other demolition leftovers into base material for contractors, use in its own manufacturing or as landscaping material. As an added benefit, every bit of recycling means less rock that needs to be mined from the region's mountains.

See their story at Demolished buildings get new purpose as road material

Sunshine Industries provides jobs and services to Knox County adults with disabilities, but is also trying to better the community as a whole with its recycling programs. Now the agency is rolling out an e-cycling program with the additional benefit of certifying electronics as destroyed -- rather than resold -- so customers know their data is secure.

Read about the new effort at Social-service agency creates e-cycling advantage

Cool Sports knows running an ice rink in an East Tennessee summer takes a ton of power. It's reducing that need as much as possible by taking advantage of the season's abundant sunshine to power facilities. The company's solar array generates enough electricity to power 14 homes and helps the facility shave off costs. It also eliminates 222,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions among others.

Get the details at Solar power shaves off costs for ice rink, sports facility

La-Z-Boy knows you probably aren't thinking of the environment when you kick back in one of its recliners, but the company is working hard nonetheless to reuse and recycle as much as it can. It's been an ongoing effort. Last year the company recyled 93 percent of its materials. The facility marked Earth Day this year by achieving zero waste at its Dayton, Tenn. facility. 

Learn about the process at La-Z-Boy Tennessee reuses, recycles to avoid landfill

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The Knox County school board on Wednesday approved adding solar panels to 11 county schools.

"I think if this was all of our schools, I would be much more cautious, but we're talking about 10-12 percent of all of our schools to give something a try," said Karen Carson, school board members.

The panels are expected to save more than $3.8 million in energy costs, a figure that could increase over the next 30 years.

The schools that will receive new solar roof panels are: Hardin Valley Academy; the L&N STEM Academy; A.L. Lotts and Amherst elementary schools; Bearden, Powell, South-Doyle and West Valley middle schools; and Central, Karns and West high schools.

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The Tennessee Department of Agriculture has received word from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that its registration to import hemp seed has been approved.

This follows months of discussion between the two agencies about specificts of Tennessee's industrial hemp pilot program that have farmers unsure they'll get the hemp seed in time to plant a crop. The good news is no additional restrictions have been set on the program regarding acreage or number of participants, said Corinne Gould, TDA deputy director of public affairs.

Tennessee's initial applications totalled more than 2,100 acres by 53 growers, far exceeding those from nearby states like Kentucky that have launched similar programs.

It means planting is one step closer to reality, but more approvals wrangling is ahead.

TDA should receive its registration information in the next few days, but it still has to apply for specific import permits, which also must be DEA approved, said Gould. No time frame for that process has been given. The department plans to order seed from Canada and Australia, each of which must follow particular export rules for their country. 

As such, there's still not a firm date for when the seed will be distributed, and the clock is ticking. Farmers need to plant by late May or early June for the best crop.

Photo: In this May 19, 2014 file photo, a farmer holds a handful of hemp seeds, on a day of planting in Sterling, Colo. (AP Photo/Kristen Wyatt, File)

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Knoxville will host the fourth annual Tennessee Bike Summit April 23-24 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Cyclists, planners, engineers and government officials will gather to attend sessions and workshops on advocacy, education, planning and infrastructure.

Ahead of that event, the city has released a list of 20 bicycle-friendly improvements it's prioritizing for the next few years -- out of 120 that were recommended in a recent study.

Topping the list is a plan to widen the stretch of Chapman Highway that cyclists take to get across the Henley Bridge to UT or downtown destinations and add a dedicated bike lane.

Photo: University of Tennessee student Christopher Allen bikes on the sidewalk en route to campus last week on Chapman Highway. The city has completed a study recommending  upgrades to Knoxville's bicycle infrastructure, including a $700,000 Chapman Highway project the city hopes to fund with a federal grant distributed through TDOT. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

That state of Tennessee will now share costs for farmers here to earn the USDA organic certification

Certified organic producers can apply to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for a 75 percent cost share up to a maximum of $750 to help defray costs related to receiving and maintaining organic certification, including inspection costs. Organic operations that have achieved certification since October 1, 2014 meet the time qualification to seek reimbursement, as do organic operations that become certified between now and September 30, 2015.

Organic certification typically costs small farm producers between $600 and $1,000 annually. Costs increase based on product and sales volume.

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Starting next year, FEMA says it will only approve disaster preparedness funds to states whose governors approve hazard mitigation plans that factor in climate change.

This may put several Republican governors who maintain the earth isn't warming due to human activities, or prefer to do nothing about it, into a political bind, reports Katherine Bagley, with InsideClimate News.

Their position may block their states' access to hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA funds. Over the past five years, the agency has awarded an average $1 billion a year in grants to states and territories for taking steps to mitigate the effects of disasters.

Photo: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate speaks at FEMA headquarters in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Zach Gibson)

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Community organizers have finalized long-range plans for linking greenways in West Knoxville, Knox County and Oak Ridge.

The Knox to Oak Ridge Greenway Plan, created by The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Greenway Council, Knoxville Regional TPO and their partners, would add 13.2 miles of greenway trail to connect the Melton Lake Greenway in Oak Ridge with the 10 Mile Creek and Pellissippi greenways in Knox County.

The project as envisioned would cost $8.8 million dollars and be pursued in stages, according to a press release.  A second, smaller study is in the works this year to add the Turkey Creek Greenway into the project, based on public feedback.

Of that figure, the greenway itself is estimated to cost $600,000 per mile, but some portions of the proposed path will take more work than others. Safely crossing the Solway Bridge is a known problem; the proposed cantilevered pedestrian walkway  solution would cost $560,000. The Cross Creek trailhead, including a parking lot, would need to be created at a cost of $103,000.

 Finding those funds is expected to take time and a mix of public and private cooperation, especially as federal support for such projects are on the wane. 

Options mentioned in the report include asking developers of nearby commercial and residential projects to set aside property or easments for the greenway, as well as traditional donations of money and materials.

The planning document highlights potential benefits of greenways to both homeowners and businesses, citing projects in similar cities in the region that attracted businesses and boosted home values. 

All 17 schools in the Anderson County school system have received upgrades as part of a $9.7 million project to save energy.

An open house celebrating the milestone will be  5:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday at Briceville Elementary School.

The project included upgrades to heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, electrical systems, new windows, energy efficient lights, water conservation measures, advanced energy management controls and new suspended ceiling systems.

The improvements will provide the school system with more than $620,000 in annual energy savings, which will more than pay for implementation, said Larry Foster, director of schools in a news release.

The energy saved is estimated to be equivalent to the power needs of more than 650 homes per year.

The project is part of a 15-year contract with Energy Systems Group, an energy service provider, approved last year.

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Visit the University of Tennessee's SPECTRUM solar energy exhibit Saturday at Knoxville Center Mall and learn the ins and outs of solar energy, courtesy of UT, the city of Knoxville, Aries Energy and TN-SCORE.

From 10:30 a.m.-noon March 14, ARiES Energy will present information about installing solar panels for residential and commercial customers, including the process, pay-back period and impact on electricity bills.

The exhibit is on the mall's second level, next to JC Penney.

Register with Eventbrite

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2015 is the previous archive.

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