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Net Zero Schools in Kentucky: Models for the Future Come from Surprising Places

Dec 11, 2012

by Forbes Magazine Dec 10, 2012

"Kentucky’s crown jewel is surely its net zero Richardsville Elementary School in Warren County.  A net zero building is an edifice that produces the same amount (or more) energy as it consumes.  Net zero buildings will become increasingly more common as renewable technologies (such as solar and wind), and efficient end-use technologies (such as LED lighting and high efficiency climate control systems) drop in price.  But technologies and prices alone are not the real key to creating net zero buildings.  The real trick is to apply the holistic thinking required to view a building as a “living” entity that involves integrated planning for the interactions of various systems and the needs of the people inside the building.

In a net-zero building, like the Richardsville School, one generally has to think about these interactions.  This is because the affiliated renewable energy systems are relatively costly.  It becomes imperative to design the most cost-effective and efficient building so that one can downsize the required renewable energy source.  So in the case of the Richardsville Elementary School, an effort was made to reduce the average energy use from 60.5 kBtu per square foot to 18.2 kBtu.

This involved investment in technologies such as natural day-lighting, and efficient lamps, a geothermal heating and cooling system, and insulated concrete form walls with high heat retention “R” values."

Read Entire Forbes Article on Richardsville

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