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FRANKFORT, Ky. - Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson joined state energy and education leaders Monday to recognize 12 Kentucky schools—including Milton Elementary School in the Trimble County School District—for their efforts to lower energy costs by improving efficiencies in their buildings.
Each school earned an “ENERGY STAR” designation, part of a federal program that identifies education institutions that are among the top five percent in the nation for energy efficiency.
“As an administration that has a comprehensive energy plan aimed at creating statewide efficient, sustainable energy solutions and strategies, Governor Beshear and I are proud to recognize these schools for their leadership in this area,” Lt. Gov. Abramson said.
Trimble County Board of Education member Scott Burrows attended the ceremony to accept the ENERGY STAR award on behalf of Superintendent Marcia Dunaway and Milton Elementary Principal Susan James. The ceremony was held in the State Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.
Burrows said the Trimble County School District “became partners with several other school districts to share the cost and hire an energy manager to help us become more energy efficient and already the program has reaped economic rewards. Over this two-year program we have estimated that we have saved well over $100,000 in energy costs.”
A number of the energy conservation ideas included simple things such as teachers making sure lights and computer monitors were turned off when leaving classrooms, installing energy-efficient lighting and switches that automatically turned off lights when sensing the room was not in use, Burrows said.
“Our district made a commitment that has already paid for itself and will continue to reap benefits in the future,” Burrows said.
Other ENERGY STAR-designated schools recognized in addition to Milton Elementary include: Overdale Elementary, Bullitt County school district; Turkey Foot Middle and James A Caywood Elementary, Kenton County school district; Flaherty Primary, Meade County school district; Foster Heights Elementary, Nelson County school district; East Middle, Shelby County school district; Richardsville Elementary, Warren East Middle, Oakland Elementary, Plano Elementary and Cumberland Trace Elementary, all of the Warren County school district.
The newly announced 12 schools bring the number of Kentucky’s ENERGY STAR school buildings to 160. The number has more than doubled over the last two years.
The ENERGY STAR program is a key element of Gov. Beshear’s comprehensive energy plan. To increase energy efficiency in Kentucky’s public schools, Gov. Beshear authorized $5.2 million in 2009 Recovery funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, knowing schools would be able to save money by saving energy.
This funding helped create the Kentucky School Energy Managers Project, a partnership between the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Department for Energy Development and Independence and the Kentucky School Boards Association.
Under this program, the Kentucky School Boards Association hired 35 school energy managers serving some 130 participating school districts, to bring increased energy efficiency management and sustainable programs to Kentucky’s schools.
“With assistance from the School Energy Managers Project, Kentucky school districts have avoided nearly $13 million in cumulative energy costs,” said Bill Scott, executive director of the Kentucky School Boards Association. “This money can be better spent in classrooms.”
In the United States, energy costs for public schools are in the billions - more than states spend on textbooks and computers combined, according to the Kentucky Department of Education.
The department’s Greg Dunbar said ENERGY STAR schools cost 40 cents per square foot less to operate while incorporating an education element at each school.
“These Kentucky ENERGY STAR schools have embraced the concept wholeheartedly and have incorporated energy efficiency and performance into their curriculum, so that students benefit in multiple ways,” Dunbar said. “Although efficiency and sound energy management are hallmarks of the ENERGY STAR program, it also increases students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, helping prepare them for life after high school.”
Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters said with federal stimulus funding expiring, the impact of the schools’ accomplishments leaves a legacy for energy independence for Kentucky’s future.
“In the last several years, school districts across the Commonwealth have come to recognize the importance that reduced energy consumption has to their bottom line,” Peters said. “By following ENERGY STAR standards, districts are able to cut energy costs, help the environment and put those cost savings back into their school systems for teachers and curriculum.”