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The University of Tennessee

Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment

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311 Conference Center Bldg.
Knoxville, TN USA 37996-4134

Phone: 865.974.4251
Fax: 865.974.1838
Email: Tim Ezzell at


For information on the Beck Tour, please contact Eric Ogle, 865-974-4562,

CPC Projects

Current Projects

The New Norris House –This project recently received funding from the EPA as part of the annual P3 Competition (People, Prosperity and the Planet) for Sustainability. The project is in development now through April 2009, when a model of the New Norris House will be part of a national competition in Washington, DC.

This project will update/improve the Norris House, which was designed as an integral part of the planned community of Norris during construction and operation of the Norris Dam in 1930s. CPC will lead the redesign efforts of the Norris House, using all sustainable building materials and methods and integrate renewable energy sources as part of Norris’ and TVA’s 75th anniversary.

Current partners include UT, TVA, the City of Norris, and will include several UT research units (UT Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, UT Center for Clean Products, UT CPC, and others) and a multi-disciplinary team of UT graduate students and professors. CPC is now soliciting participation from existing corporate partners and “green” certification programs with the goal of replicating efficient, affordable, and sustainable homes.

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Appalachian Teaching Project 2009picture of students in washington, dcEach fall CPC staff teach a graduate class made up of mostly Planning, Political Science, and Sociology majors in distressed communities as part of the Appalachian Regional Commission’s Appalachian Teaching Project. Recent years we have gone to Copperhill/Polk County, Wartburg/Morgan County, Hartford/Cocke County, Madisonville/Monroe County to meet and talk with community members on local assets, planning for sustainable economic and community development, and to highlight opportunities for sustainable economic growth.

Typically, students learn to facilitate community meetings, gather foundational ideas with community members in an informal workshop setting, and then research ideas and present them to the community. From that pool of ideas, the community prioritizes projects and/or policies that should be implemented at the local level to achieve project goals. Students get real world experience, and the community gets planning and economic development assistance. CPC maintains a relationship with the community to assist them develop plans and funding proposals.

For ATP 2008-09, the East Tennessee community of Cosby was selected as it faces significant development pressures and community change issues along tourism corridors adjacent to the most visited protected area in North America. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, so what better way to celebrate than to engage it's northernmost gateway community for the sustainability of Cosby's economic, environmental, and cultural resources.

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Knoxville Wireless Tourism Network  – CPC is building a wireless broadband network downtown to promote heritage tourism in Knoxville. Several community organizations are involved with different aspects, but funding comes from the Empowerment Zone program (US HUD), the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, and other core partners, including the Carpetbag Theatre, the Literacy Imperative, and UT-CPC.

Basically, there will be several areas around downtown where people will log on for free with any Wi-Fi device (laptop, PDA, iPhone, etc) to take a multimedia walking tour of sites significant to Knoxville’s history. The Carpetbag Theatre is creating 3-4 minute digital stories about 15 sites around town that users can view while standing in front of the historic sites. We hope to create an immersive experience for people to view historic photos and learn about notable people, past uses of particular buildings, or happenings at significant sites while standing at or near the site.

Phase One will provide wireless access in The Old City, Market Square, along the length of Gay Street, Volunteer Landing, and a few other outlying places and pockets near downtown where people congregate. We have the server in place and connected, and the wireless backbone is in place using four buildings downtown (Green Elementary School, Sterchi Lofts, the Arnstein Building, and the UT Conference Center Building). We have 8 more Wi-Fi sites to connect, and should have the network infrastructure in place within two months. The 15 overlapping Wi-Fi hotspots will create one seamless wireless network downtown connecting the Old City to the river. Technical support is through the UT Office of Information Technology, which boasts the largest on-campus wireless network in the nation.

The goals of the project are to:

  1. attract people to downtown and adjacent neighborhoods and encourage them to stay as long as possible - The tour will get people walking around downtown, eating, shopping while learning, and will encourage people to visit places and spend money throughout the greater community.
  2. encourage technical literacy among residents - The Literacy Imperative is a place near downtown (and a tour site) where residents can learn about the technology we are developing downtown – an open access wireless broadband community network – and people will be encouraged to develop applications for downtown and possibly license for wireless networks elsewhere.
  3. promote cultural identity - Getting people to become more aware of the heritage of their hometown will instill a sense of place and community and encourage people to express the values of their hometown across a digital multimedia platform.

The Knoxville-Oak Ridge Regional Network (KORRnet, now is providing server administration, and much of the community network’s content is mirrored on the downtown server, so local organizations currently with KORRnet will also have an opportunity for increased visibility. "Open access" means organizations are free to develop their own tour or program and host it across the infrastructure; no need to create a separate wireless network.

The capacity to host additional content is virtually unlimited, so one can envision multiple tours and applications, such as a Historic Home tours, a Cradle of Country Music Tour with actual music, as well as promotional content for area businesses like hotels, restaurants, and retail, all on the same wireless network.

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UT Campus Preservation Project – Project funding from the Getty Foundation is to develop a plan to preserve structures important to the University of Tennessee's history. This $150,000, two year project, will end with final report to Getty in August 2008.

The report will include recommendations to UT Administration for incorporation in Campus Master Plan. It will also result in Historic Register Nominations for key buildings, as well as nominations for two historic overlay districts on and around the campus, among other outcomes.

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Little River, Big Future – CPC is nearing the end of what has become a model approach to participatory environmental planning, which we call "Little River, Big Future." The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the ALCOA Foundation funded this five-year process that has served to promote resource sustainability and sustainable development in the Little River Watershed in Blount County, one of the fastest developing/growing areas in the state.

Basically, as the Little River flows out of the National Park near Townsend, it is one of the cleanest streams along the Appalachians, but as it dumps into the Tennessee River in Knoxville, it is one of the most polluted; clearly a human impact issue. The Blount County Soil Conservation District was recently awarded a grant of almost $1M from the EPA to promote best practices in the watershed, and over $3.5M in federal funding has gone to the watershed since 1999.

In June 2008, CPC will be redesigning and publishing a "Little River Big Future" publication that again will be distributed throughout Blount County to raise awareness of environmental issues along the watershed. Along the same lines, the Community Partnership Center is creating a citizen stakeholder committee (made up of 12-15 citizen stakeholders representing agriculture, tourism, residential, urban, rural, industry, real estate, construction, etc) to make recommendations to the Little River Water Quality Forum and Blount County Commission about watershed issues for policy adoption and/or improvement.

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