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Solar Array on City FacilitiesSolar panels on top of the Knoxville Convention Center generate power to reduce energy use, utility costs, and emissions

Buildings: 37% of Community EmissionsBuilding Emissions 2019

Wasting energy means wasting money. Because much of our energy comes from fossil fuels, wasting energy also creates unnecessary negative impacts on the environment. Emissions from energy used in buildings and facilities accounted for about 37% of the Knoxville community’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2019. These emissions come from the natural gas and electricity we use to heat, light, and power our homes and workplaces.

Greenhouse gas emissions from buildings are more than 29% lower than in 2005, due to increased building efficiency and utility investments in lower-carbon electricity. Electricity makes up approximately 60% of all energy use in buildings, and investments in cleaner energy have been able to outpace the increase in overall energy use in our growing community .

The Office of Sustainability champions efforts to reduce energy waste across City buildings, parks, and roadways; advance clean energy investment opportunities; and promote policies and programs that improve building efficiency for our residents and businesses. We work closely with KUB and TVA to fine-tune energy efficiency programs that will benefit our residents.

City Focus Areas

To reduce energy use, utility expense, and greenhouse gas emissions, the City has aggressively pursued energy efficiency projects and renewable energy systems in our facilities. We have pledged to reduce energy intensity across our portfolio through the Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge platform and report annually on our progress.

City successes include:

   • Hosting KUB's first community solar array
   • Enrolled Knoxville Convention Center in TVA Green Switch Match renewable energy program
   • Completed retrofit of ~30,000 streetlights with LED bulbs
   • Achieved LEED Silver Certification at Knoxville Convention Center and Public Works Complex
   • Adopted 2018 IECC Building Code
   • Energy performance contracts at multiple City facilities
   • Awarded DOE Solar America Cities grant to accelerate solar adoption
   • Awarded TVA Extreme Energy Makeover grant to improve residential energy efficiency
   • Awarded IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant to improve residential energy efficiency

Community Priorities

The Mayor’s Climate Council ranked buildings and energy strategies for their potential to directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their community benefits. For example, investment in energy efficiency lowers energy use, utility expenditures, and emissions, but it can also improve comfort, health, and indoor air quality.  

 Mayor's Climate Council - Priority Energy/Building Strategies
 Strategy Rankings*
Create voluntary, large, commercial, and multi-family energy upgrade program(s) (eg. incentives, technical assistance) that achieve deep energy savings (~25%+) in ~20%+ of buildings  Strategy Rankings
Amplify and opportunistically expand voluntary home energy upgrade program(s) that will achieve deep energy savings (~25%+) in 20% of homes  Strategy Rankings
Develop or amplify opportunities to invest in renewables at scale, including community solar and in-valley investments  Strategy Rankings
Research and develop strategies to promote opportunistic electrification (eg. replacement of fossil fuel-fired furnaces with electric heat pump technologies) in existing buildings over time  Strategy Rankings
  Strategy Rankings


   • CAC Home Weatherization Assistance Program and Emergency Home Repair
   • CAC Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Project Help – programs that provide emergency financial assistance for residents struggling to pay utility bills 
   • KUB Round It Up & Home Uplift Program
   • KUB Energy & Water Saving Workshops
   • KUB Renewable Energy programs
   • TVA EnergyRight – tips and programs for commercial/industrial and residential energy savings
   • TDEC Office of Energy Programs and Clean Energy Financing
   • City Housing Programs – including home rehabilitation support and more
   • City Savings in the House - no-cost DIY tips to conserve energy in your home
   • Knoxville Citizen’s Guide to Sustainability: DIY Energy Conservation Tips [PDF]
   • DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
   • DOE Better Buildings
   • Energy Star - Pledge to Save Energy At Home
   • US Green Building Council and East Tennessee Chapter
   • Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)
   • ORNL Building Technologies Program
   • American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)