Kentucky: High Performance School

Ohio Visitors Tour the School

twenhofel-2.jpgThere was a tour on August 9th at the Twenhofel Middle School in Independence, Kentucky. The tour was organized by Glen Kizer of the Foundation for Environmental Education. The tour was conducted by Robert L. Lape, Facilities Director/Architect for the Kenton County Schools, and Joseph Ahrens Hayes of Robert Ehmet Hayes & Associates, the architect for the school.


On the tour were:

Ohio School Facilities Commission: Franklin Brown, Bill Prenosil, Architect with OSFC, Mark Wantage, Maintenance and Commissioning Program Lead, Tom Brannon, Project Closeout Administrator, Been Kuo, Mechanical Engineer and Plans Reviewer, Tara Bonner, OSFC Student (Mechanical Engineer) Intern.

Fanning/Howey: Terrance Liette, PE and Michael E. Hall, AIA, REFP, LEED AP.

The purpose of the tour was to provide the group from Ohio with an “up close and personal” look at this wonderful school in Independence, Kentucky. It is called a “high performance school” or a “green school” or an “energy smart school,” but basically these are just variations of the concept that a school building should include the following benefits:

  • Better student performance
  • Increased average daily attendance
  • Increased teacher satisfaction and retention
  • Reduced energy and operating costs
  • Positive influence on the environment
  • Ability to use the facility/building as a teaching tool

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This particular school is named after a Dr. Twenhofel who donated the land to the school district. It will be designated an “Energy Star” school by US EPA and a “LEED” certified school by the US Green Building Council.

The tour started with handouts and an opening welcome to the visitors from Ohio followed by a short summary of the building using the touch screen smart board that illustrates the major “green” features of the building including the geothermal heating and cooling systems, the daylighting, the water capturing system, and the solar electricity system.

Mr. Lape also described the competition among the three grades (7th, 8th, and 9th) at the school to see which wing would use the least amount of energy.

The tour included a number of classrooms so that the group could see the difference between how the daylighting was handled in classrooms on the south side of the school versus the classrooms on the north side of the school. The daylighting system required extensive collaboration between all the design disciplines the benefits of which go well beyond the daylighting system itself. As it provides natural full-spectrum light, the daylighting system also reduces energy consumption and lowers internal heat gain allowing the cooling equipment capacity to be reduced. We also walked up in the hidden part of the school where the wiring and the pipes run. This is where the geothermal heating and cooling systems operate. The most popular feature of the geothermal heating and cooling system is the fact that each classroom gets to set its own temperature. The most important part of the system is that it only uses half the energy of a typical heating and cooling system saving money and reducing pollution.



The group saw the plexi-glass ceiling panels that enable students in the science classrooms to use their school as a learning laboratory. The group also saw the system that catches rain water, cleans it, and pumps it back into the school to flush toilets. This recovered water is also used to water the lawn and the football field. Finally, the group wasshown the solar panels. This required us to go up on the roof. The 24 kW photovoltaic or PV system provides about 30% of the electricity being used by the school.


The hope is that by conducting these kinds of tours people from other areas, like our group from Ohio, can see a working high performance school in action and that similar schools can be built in Ohio, and around the country.

If you would like to see any of the “vital signs” being monitored by the Twenhofel Middle School, please feel free to visit the Web site.

2 Responses to “Kentucky: High Performance School”

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