KYs Next Net Zero School Opens August 5th

Warren County's Second Net Zero Energy School

Jennings Creek Exterior
Jennings Creek Front Entry

Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects celebrates with Warren County Schools and the entire community the opening of a 21st Century elementary school designed to educate students well into the future. What everyone will notice are the dynamic learning spaces designed to provide integrated and collaborative learning. Whether it be the monumental collaboration stair, maker spaces in the media center, or extended learning spaces outside the classrooms, Jennings Creek creates opportunities for learning anytime and anywhere.

What is less noticeable, BUT equally important is the sustainability incorporated into every facet of the school. Building on WCPS commitment to reduce energy consumption and the impact their schools have on the environment, Jennings Creek features a 327 kw photovoltaic array that will power the entire school with the sun’s energy. Designed to withstand severe winds, the Insulated Concrete Form building structure not only provides a stronger structure but also a better insulated wall system to reduce energy. Motion, occupancy and CO2 monitoring sensors coupled with a geothermal HVAC system keep the building comfortable while continuing to lower energy costs in a healthy indoor environment.

Why is all this important?

Today, school districts are faced with increased costs and budget reductions everywhere they turn. The largest monthly expenditures of any school district are for teachers’ salaries. The second is for utilities. Energy reduction is the one area a district has control over that can be reduced while POSITIVELY impacting education. By designing net zero schools, we can cut energy costs by as much as 75%, preserving teachers’ jobs, allowing a district to invest the dollars saved on energy bills directly back into educating its students. And we don’t mean just a few dollars. Over a 20-year span, Jennings Creek will save approximately $3.7 million!

Why should Warren County be proud of their accomplishments?

In 2010, when Richardsville Elementary, the nation’s first Net Zero Energy school, opened, Warren County proved to all that there was never any doubt they would accomplish exactly what they set out to do – have a school produce more energy than it consumes and thereby be energy neutral. Eight years later, Richardsville continues to perform at only 18.2EUI, completely “zeroing out” its $200,000 annual energy bill and generating an additional $40,000 a year in revenue for the clean energy sent back to the grid!

Warren County is now a 100% Energy Star District, has four net zero emerging schools (the first phase of solar will be installed by 2018), and requires all new schools to be designed to be Net Zero Ready. This equates to the district saving an additional $200,000 a year in energy costs.

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Additional facts

  • The average school in Kentucky (600 student elementary, 72,000 sq. ft.) will spend over $3,000,000 on energy during its’ 20-year construction bond.  That is equivalent to the cost of 60 teachers’ salaries.
  • The average cost of a school that meets the building code is $221.00 per sq. ft. The same building has an annual energy cost of $194,632.  Jennings Creek (Kentucky’s next net zero school), cost $201.17 per square feet and has an annual energy cost of $0.00.
  • The cost of solar continues to decrease, making it a viable investment for schools designed to be net zero ready.  The cost of the solar energy for Richardsville (Kentucky’s first net zero school) was $2,766,654.  The cost of the solar array for Jennings Creek (Kentucky’s next net zero school) was $392,000.
  • Our net zero school design strategies are incorporated into the curriculum and the building becomes a “three dimensional teaching tool.”  Students conduct the building tours, and even kindergarten age children can explain geothermal energy and clerestory daylighting.
  • There are only 67 net zero verified buildings in the US and Canada…two of them are in Bowling Green, KY!

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