Sustainability measures from Student Green Fee

All projects have expected return on investment of 10 years or less, and most are much faster than 10 years.

  • Campus recycling: Pickup, bins and stations
  • Green Power purchase: 14.4 million kilowatt hours annually (33 percent of UTC electricity budget)
  • Arboretum certification
  • Green Spaces’ Green Light certification
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification
  • Sustainable flooring in University Center
  • Water bottle filling stations
  • Occupancy sensors (turn lights off when unoccupied)
  • “Techno Trash” recycling
  • Student travel and attendance at Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education annual conferences
  • Electric cars and charging stations
  • Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) improvements
  • LED lighting upgrades
  • UTC Outdoors bicycles
  • Interactive kiosks for awareness-building
  • EnergyCAP data software
  • Campus beautification projects
  • Geographic Information System(GIS) technology and laptops for security
  • Fletcher Hall HVAC load reduction systems
  • Automated irrigation systems
  • Educational and awareness-building events and festivals (Earth Day; National Campus Sustainability Day)
  • Stormwater mapping
  • Solar panels at Challenger Center
  • Expert lecturers
  • Bicycle racks
  • University Center and facilities recycling support
  • Recycled wheel stops at Engel Stadium
  • Grote Hall ventilation efficiency upgrades
  • Sub-metering of electricity and chilled and hot water from Central Plant
  • Energy audits
  • Permeable pavement
  • UTC Teaching Garden
  • Virtual computers and servers
  • Student projects such as Chattanooga Parking Day
  • Campus Recreation phone app
  • Giveaways to promote sustainability (T-shirts, water bottles, Frisbees)
  • Projects like the “Test Track” on Amnicola Highway—now a net-zero building

Impacts Student Green Fee-funded Projects

  • Doubled amount of recycled materials on campus (not including housing which is currently not measured)
  • Decreased natural gas and water consumption by 67 percent over the past decade
  • Decreased electric costs by 60 percent in parking garages
  • Decreased HVAC cost at Fletcher Hall by 25 percent

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s energy consumption today is one-third of what it was about 10 years ago, and UTC students can take a lot of credit for the positive change.

In 2007, students petitioned the administration for a focus on recycling, green-power usage and energy efficiency and, as a result, environmental and resource sustainability have been official UTC priorities ever since.

A “Green Fee” was instituted that year to set aside funds to support transitioning to more environmentally sustainable practices—along with enhanced literacy around those practices—and a UTC Environmental Task Force was formed in 2008.

Within a year of launching the Environmental Task Force, UTC’s first Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Climate Action Plan were complete. They showed that, with approximately 3 million square feet of building space under roof and annually using over 45 million kilowatt hours of electricity, more than half of UTC greenhouse gas emissions came from purchased electricity.

Today, thanks to energy-efficiency enhancements, power consumption per square foot has been held steady for the last five years. In addition, thanks to a student Green Fee of $10 each semester, UTC now buys about 30 percent of its total electricity consumed each year as green power.

Working together with Chattanooga-based sustainability nonprofit Green Spaces, UTC In 2016 became the largest “Green Light,” or Green Spaces-certified green entity in Chattanooga. The milestone resulted from a collaboration of the UTC Honors College, Office of Sustainability, Environmental Task Force, 18 students and Green Spaces to demonstrate UTC’s commitment to sustainable practices in landscaping, cleaning, purchasing, water conservation, transportation, recycling and employee wellness.

Among numerous other milestones in UTC’s focus on increased sustainability:

  • Recycling has quadrupled in the past two years.
  • The Mocs Shuttle provides more than 60,000 bus rides a year.
  • Chattanooga Bike Share and Green Commuter car sharing are accessible on campus.
  • Both UTC Library and Bretske Hall are certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver buildings.
  • West Campus Housing complex, which opened in 2018, meets Tennessee High Performance Building Requirements.

In 2019, the university will take its environmental focus up another notch, according to UTC Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Darger, a founding member of the Sustainable Professionals of Greater Chattanooga and recognized expert with a distinguished career in conservation and sustainability education.

“This year, we begin our partnership with the City of Chattanooga in the EPA’s Better Buildings Challenge,” Darger said. “This means a city and campus-wide commitment to reduce energy use by an additional 20 percent over the next decade. UTC’s showcase project involves retrofitting all interior lighting and parking-garage lighting to LED wireless technology, reducing electricity consumption potentially by 80 percent.

“We are changing the culture of Chattanooga, one sustainable step at a time,” she says.


Media Relations Contacts: Email UTC Media Relations or call 423-425-5119.

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Communications and Marketing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga