Aging buildings and energy costs are two of a school’s most concerning issues, but not for Warren County, Kentucky’s Richardsville Elementary School after a sustainable redesign that now has the school selling energy back to the grid. But it hasn't always been this way. Until Richardsville Elementary School was rebuilt in 2010, classes were held in an obsolete 60-year-old building with dismal lighting and no handicapped access. Because of a local bipartisan initiative to use green building policies to provide cost savings, Richardsville was rebuilt to use only one-quarter the energy of an average school, tackling both issues of age and energy at once. The Warren County school system estimates that due to these policies focused on conserving energy in construction and operations, the savings exceeded $7 million, which was credited for avoiding teacher layoffs in a tough economy. Additionally, the school’s 2,700 rooftop solar panels produce enough power for the school district to actually sell electricity back to the grid, while geothermal pumps provide heating and cooling by using the earth’s underground temperature. Other technologies like lighting reflectors and motion sensors in rooms improve energy use throughout the school, and students and teachers are encouraged to understand and utilize the building in their learning and explain how renewable energy works and conservation really work.
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