Over the past six years, the number of ENERGY STAR certified schools in Kentucky has grown from 12 to 233 under the direction of the Kentucky School Energy Managers Project and others, a state legislative subcommittee was told recently.
KLogo Energy Starentucky School Boards Association School Energy Managers Director Ron Willhite explained to the Kentucky General Assembly’s Special Subcommittee on Energy that most, if not all, of the increase has occurred since the General Assembly’s passage of school energy efficiency legislation in 2008 and 2010. ENERGY STAR is a voluntary federal program that helps individuals and organizations, including schools, conserve energy and save costs.
House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, was glad to hear about the increase in Kentucky schools receiving the special designation.
“That’s pretty amazing, to be very honest with you. That’s pretty amazing,” said Adkins, who sponsored the 2008 legislation. The 2010 legislation was sponsored by Senate President Pro-Tem Katie Stine, R-Southgate.
The 2008 law requires local school boards to participate in the Kentucky Energy Efficiency Program, which provides information about potential energy savings. The 2010 law “highly” encourages schools to meet, or exceed, efficient school design standards, and to consider building to “net zero” standards in which a building produces at least as much energy as it consumes.
Grant County Schools Energy Manager Jon Nipple explained that most energy use at schools is from heating and cooling (50 percent) and lighting (25 percent). Geothermal energy, carbon dioxide sensors that help control when air is heated or cooled, and LED lighting are all considered best practices for school energy savings and are used by many energy efficient schools today, Nipple told the subcommittee. Automated web-based systems that control energy use when schools are unoccupied are also helpful, considering that schools are only used by students and teachers 1/4 to 1/3 of the time, Nipple said.
Schools like Richardsville Elementary in Warren County that have achieved the net zero standard can reap considerable savings, according to Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence Efficiency and Conservation Director Greg Guess. Guess said Richardsville Elementary had no energy bill in 2012, instead receiving a check from its energy provider (TVA) for over $37,200.
The state currently has three net zero schools: Richardsville Elementary, Turkey Foot Middle School in Kenton County, and Locust Trace AgriScience Farm in Fayette County. Richardsville Elementary was the first net zero school built in the U.S., Guess said.