Get ready to be impressed and inspired. This week the Greater Knoxville Business Journal released its annual list of the top 40 professionals under age 40 in East Tennessee. Several members of this group are making strides in climate change, sustainability, energy efficiency and the local food movement.
Check out their profiles after the jump.
When she isn't waking up at 3 a.m. to pasteurize and bottle milk or tend to the farm's 170 Jersey cows, Cruze is promoting the Cruze Farm Girl ice cream business that she launched from her father's recipe.
"We try to use as many local ingredients in our ice cream as we can," she says. "We use eggs from local farms and honey from our neighbor. If we can support each other, it works out well," Cruze says.
The ice cream is sold from a Cruze Farm food truck, at local farmers' markets, at independent grocery stores and food cooperatives, along with the farm's unhomogenized milk, real churned buttermilk and chocolate milk.
In addition, she's introduced her farm's products to local restaurants, many of whom now use those products in the dishes they serve.
Claus Daniel, 35, deputy director, Sustainable Transportation Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory:
Claus Daniel sees great potential in electric vehicles."I'm excited about electric vehicles because I think they can be a game changer," says Daniel, deputy director of the Sustainable Transportation Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
"With the whole way information technology and communication is going ... we can think about self-driving vehicles and vehicles that communicate with each other," he says. "At some point, vehicles will never crash anymore and that's getting really exciting because then you can really tackle efficiency of vehicles."
Researchers are working on some of these technologies within the Sustainable Transportation Program. Daniel's own research focuses on developing affordable and longer lasting batteries for electric vehicles.
Daniel also helped establish the country's largest open-access Battery Manufacturing Research and Development Facility.
Aaron Miller, a member of the Knoxville chapters of the Construction Specifications Institute and American Institute of Architects, focuses on creating more sustainable and energy-efficient spaces.
"When the students in these schools see how the school performs with the environment around it with sustainable design, hopefully down the road, they will understand that and apply that down the road to helping the environment," he says.
Miller has designed or renovated schools and recreation facilities in Roane, Knox, Blount, Rhea and Putnam counties.
"We want them to be safe, but we also want to enlighten the people that walk into it," he says. "Today, there is more of an emphasis on sustainability and improving the environment we live in. We're constantly looking to improve that and make the built environment a better place to be as an end result."
Ben Preston, 38, deputy director, Oak Ridge Climate Change Institute, Oak Ridge National Laboratory:
Ben Preston strives to be a trusted source of information when it comes to educating people about climate change."The people I really want to reach are those who are interested, but don't really understand what all the fuss is about and what all the issues are and are curious to learn more," he says.
As deputy director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Oak Ridge Climate Change Institute, Preston works with other researchers to understand the science of climate change from a range of perspectives.
"My particular focus is on understanding what are the likely consequences of changes in the climate going to be for human beings, our society and our economy," he says. "I'm involved in the research area that is trying to understand how global climate is changing, what are the implications of those changes and what can we or should we do about that."
Susanna Sutherland often gets to say, "Yes," to new opportunities as she works to make Knoxville a sustainable city others can emulate.
"I'm proud of my partners, my staff and this city for letting me do things we haven't done before because a lot of cities don't have that 'yes' mentality," says Sutherland, manager of the city of Knoxville's Office of Sustainability.
Since stepping into the newly created position in 2009, Sutherland has overseen programs to bring curbside recycling to city residents, home weatherization opportunities to qualified families, energy-efficient upgrades to city buildings, an infrastructure to support electric vehicles, and training for those interested in installing solar technology in homes or businesses.
"We've been able to touch over 2,000 local businesses that way through training offered at no cost to them," she says of the solar installation program.