“We hope efforts like this will help to encourage an environmentally friendly lifestyle,” he said. “If you get children thinking that way and committed to it early, that’s how they will live in the future.” He said the idea of specific parking places for environmentally friendly vehicles began in California and has gradually moved across the U.S. Several factors went into placement at the high school including within a student parking lot, working around assigned handicapped parking areas and finding a group of spots together near the curb to display the signs to raise awareness.
“The district wants to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior with the high school,” he said. “The parking spots will add awareness, which we hope students will absorb and then change their daily approach.” Smith said currently the complex doesn’t include any charging stations because the district wanted spots to be inclusive of all low emission vehicles, including models from Honda, Chevrolet and Ford. School officials and building engineers hope the signs and preferential parking placement reinforce healthy, green choices, according to Smith.
The emphasis on green practices in the 300,000 square-foot building extends past the parking lot, with features including roof and wall insulation, low-flow plumbing fixtures that use 40 percent less water, geothermal high efficiency pipes, occupancy censors for overhead lights in classrooms, an energy efficient hood and appliances in the kitchen area, and recycling centers throughout the complex. Smith also emphasized the individualization of every room, with a separate panel that can be controlled on-site or at the board office to minimize wasted energy during nights, weekends and school breaks. The main building is composed of 40 percent glass to increase daily light and decrease heating and cooling costs and has speakers in every classroom ceiling to distribute the noise while keeping the sound level less than 45 decibels, he said.
The district is working toward securing a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Business Council, which provides various levels of verification for green buildings. If awarded the certification, McCracken County would be the largest LEED certified high school in Kentucky, Smith said.
Superintendent Nancy Waldrop emphasized the district’s goal in creating a school that sets the bar high for environmental conservancy.
“Energy efficiency is our goal for the entire campus, and the low emission parking is a visible sign of it,” she said. “Energy savings throughout the school helped to make a very beautiful building with the large windows for natural light.”
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.
Read more: The Paducah Sun – MCHS emphasizes environmental values