Archive for the 'Kentucky' Category

Kentucky: High Performance School

Friday, September 1st, 2006

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.

Alexandria, Kentucky – Solar Celebration

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Campbell Ridge Elementary School in Alexandria, Kentucky, held a Solar Celebration May 18, 2006. It was a full day of festival-like atmosphere while fourth-grade students taught lower grades about energy from the sun using songs, games, solar demonstrations and science experiments.


It all began when fourth grade teachers Dena Gosney and Stacie Levey attended a day of training given by the Kentucky NEED (National Energy Education Development) Project in partnership with Owen Electric’s EnviroWatts program.


The fourth grade teachers spent two weeks guiding their students as they learned the NEED solar activities. On the day of the celebration, the fourth grade students were responsible for teaching the second and third graders using the hands-on activities supplied in the NEED kit. The 103 fourth graders kept busy with over 100 second-graders participating in the morning and over 90 third graders participating during the afternoon session.

“The event was fabulous,” said Gosney. ‘Kids teaching kids,’ [the NEED motto] seems to be a way kids learn best. The students really did well and we got lots of positive responses from other teachers.”

Student hospitality guides Jordan (on left) and Christina escorted visitors around the school to the five solar activity stations:
1. Radiometers, solar ovens, solar balloons
2. Solar songs and dances (written and choreographed by the students)
3. Solar games (created and designed up by the students)
4. Videos on solar energy
5. Solar bead bracelets, photos using solar sensitive paper, thermometer experiments

In one of the photos:
Morgan (on left) holds a solar fan that cools off the Energy House made out of a shoebox.

Outdoor solar lessons had students floating giant solar balloons, baking cookies in solar ovens and making bracelets out of solar beads. In this picture students huddle around to take “photos” of their hands using light-sensitive paper. Inside students did solar dances with hand motions and lyrics written by the students. In another class the students played solar games with game boards designed and created by the students.

In the middle of the day, a special ribbon-cutting ceremony took place to celebrate the 500 watt solar panel installed at the school. The funding for the PV panel came from Owen Electric’s EnviroWatts, a program that offers customers a renewable energy alternative.

It was a full day of Solar Celebration “The students are still talking about it,” says teacher Dena Gosney. “The lower grade students are excited about being fourth graders so they can do it, too!”

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