Richardsville Elementary School in Warren County, Kentucky, has been named KAEE's Outstanding PreK-12 School for Excellence in Environmental Education! The school enables students to learn about energy on a daily basis through features including a "geothermal hallway," a "solar hallway," a "water conservation hallway," an interactive mural explaining how water is used throughout the county, and a "recycling hallway."
With exposed piping, Richardsville Elementary's "geothermal hallway" features a temperature gauge so students can monitor the system's performance. A laptop battery-charging station in the "solar hallway" shows students how energy is received from the school's solar panels. In the "water conservation hallway," students can monitor the amount of collected rainwater, which is used in the school's rain garden. Provided by the Warren County Water District, an interactive mural demonstrates how water is used in Warren County. And the "recycling hallway" allows students to monitor the quantities of materials collected and study how this contributes to the school's global impact.
Richardsville Elementary, a net-zero school, has 2,000 solar panels on the roof and 700 on the parking structure, as well as an electricity grid. It's geothermal (HVAC) heating and cooling system allows for environmentally responsible efficiency. Walls of concrete (ICF)-pre-assembled blocks-steel reinforced, then filled with concrete-make the walls stronger, far more protected from fire, and provide more sound insulation.
To keep the air quality high, the school's ventilation system includes a CO2 monitoring system. The position of the building also helps the school's efficiency; positioning it north-south allows for effective day lighting, so artificial lighting is turned off during 70% of school hours. Computers are wireless laptops and use a fraction of the energy used to run a typical desktop computer.
"At Richardsville Elementary, the administration and the teachers see the school as a building that teaches, and focuses on, sustainability," says retired Western Kentucky University professor Terry Wilson.