Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Light Bulb Moment: Bright Ideas for Going Green

Recently, 42 light fixtures that previously illuminated the 618,000 gallon Secret Reef tank in Ocean Journey were replaced with 28 more energy efficient lamps. Members and frequent visitors may have noticed an improvement in visibility and color inside the exhibit.

New lighting above the Secret Reef tank

But these new fixtures did more than enhance the view – they’re helping to save a lot of energy. The previous lighting system totaled 21,600 watts while the new one provides a much better visitor experience with only 3,300 watts. Not only will the new system save energy, it will also zap an impressive $9,429 a year from the Aquarium’s energy bill – paying for itself in less than two years’ time!

This is a practical solution that you can use in your own home. Did you know that switching to more energy efficient household lighting can save up to 75% of the energy used by incandescent bulbs? Even turning off the light when you leave a room for more than 20 seconds can make a big impact.

These energy savings are great for your wallet, but even better for the wildlife in our area and all over the world. Saving energy leads to saving resources, like water and other valuable habitat space where many Aquarium animals would call home in the wild.

Want to know other ways you can join us in going green today and every day?

Conserve and Reuse Water

Whenever possible, we re-filter and reuse water in our exhibits. In Ocean Journey we reclaim 16,000 gallons of water per week! We have also installed waterless or low-flow urinals in two restrooms. 

Did you know that the River Gorge Explorer also monitors water quality along the Tennessee River? Check it out.

At home: Keep a bucket in the shower and reuse the water collected to water house plants. You can also collect larger amounts of water outside with a rain barrel. (Make your own barrel at our next rain barrel workshop.) Install low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets in your house to reduce the amount of water that you use in the bathroom and kitchen.

Recycle Right

We recycle paper, cardboard, glass, #1-#7 plastics, batteries, aluminum, empty aerosol cans, loose metal jar lids and steel bottle caps, electronics, wood pallets, shredded documents, toner cartridges, old carpeting, old staff uniforms, old brochures and used ticket stubs. We take metal to a salvage yard. We responsibly dispose of lamps with mercury content, light fixture ballasts, used oils, antifreeze and oil and gas filter cartridges.

A tank in the Tennessee River gallery safely showcases the effects of trash in our waterways.

At home: Find out about recycling programs in your area. Make our resources last longer by recycling everything you can: plastic, cardboard, paper, aluminum, batteries, and cell phones. Extra points for composting! Give some nutrition to your soil by composting fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, and coffee grounds.

Rethink Transportation

Thousands of our visitors come in groups and arrive by school bus or motor coach. In past years, hundreds of buses would idle for more than 30 minutes while waiting for passengers to re-board. Today, thanks to a partnership with the United Motor Coach Association, signage encourages drivers to limit idling to no more than five minutes, which improves air quality and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A sign outside the Aquarium asks buses and motor coaches to limit idle time.

At home: Can you bike to work? Walk to a popular lunch spot? Challenge yourself to cut your transportation costs in half by carpooling, walking, biking, and using public transportation. Talk to your co-workers and friends from school to find a way to share rides. If you can add your errands to the same trip, you’ll be extra efficient. If you’re driving, check your tire inflation. You can increase your gas mileage by up to 3 percent if you keep your tires properly inflated.

Thanks for doing your part this Earth Day! You can get even more great tips from the Green Practices page on our website!


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0s0-Pa said...

Great ideas for saving energy. House Logic also has some green living ideas worth considering.

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