Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale Talks About His Green Team
We’re looking at every way possible that we can reduce energy consumption and not hold ourselves hostage to foreign oil producers. We’re taking some very practical steps such as campaigns to turn out the lights, turn down the heat, back off on the air-conditioning, and things like that. We’re using some hybrid cars in our fleet.
What sort of a difference can the Green Team make?
When you’re a community of 400,000 and have over 80 school buildings it can go a long way toward helping us meet our budget requirements. It also enables us to spend more dollars on the things that are important like public education, public safety, parks and recreation, and less dollars on energy sources.
Is the Green Team limited solely to Knox County facilities?
We’re trying to take it not only inside the workplace but outside the workplace as well. So we’ve encouraged our county employees to become a member of the Green Team. Sign up for the Green Team and the Tennessee Valley Authority comes and does an energy audit of your home. You also agree to use certain recyclables and make personal steps as well to make America more energy independent.
It sounds like Knox County is taking a multifaceted approach to tackling its energy needs.
I think a lot of times we look for one big initiative that’s going to solve all our concerns. I don’t think life works that way. In this particular case I think we have to use lots of different steps to get back our energy independence.
Practical solutions can often have far-reaching effects.
That’s right. For years we’ve had struggles in our area with air quality control. Our air is cleaner now than any time it’s been in the past 20 years, and there’s a reason for that. We’re using cleaner fuels, more efficient fuels, and we’re also trying to reduce the number of trips that people take in their vehicles around town. So again, it’s some very practical steps that we’re taking and we’re seeing some great efficiency.
And also one thing that I think is oftentimes overlooked is that if you’re using more efficient fuels and cleaner fuels, it helps the environment compared to strictly using petroleum and coal.
Last question. Are you a Green Team member?
I’m proud to be a member
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED, CONDENSED, AND EDITED BY ERIC O’KEEFE