Jennings Creek Elementary School in Warren County, Kentucky achieved verified zero energy performance in the spring of 2020, becoming the second zero energy school in the Warren County Public School district and the third in Kentucky. The school achieved an operating Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 15, 69% below the median EUI of a K-12 school, making it the second most energy-efficient elementary school in the United States. To be verified as zero energy, the solar production of a building must exceed its energy consumption for a full year.
The Jennings Creek Elementary school was one project of several that were completed through a $30 million dollar guaranteed energy savings performance contract (GESPC) used by the school district to modernize and improve energy efficiency district wide. The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (Kentucky’s State Energy Office) supported the project by providing a $375,000 grant from environmental mitigation funds, which supported the purchase and installation of 520 kW of solar panels across six schools, including Jennings Creek.
The GESPC used by Warren County Public Schools guarantees the school district $842,753 in utility and operational savings per year, a 23% drop in annual utility costs. The GESPC financed upgrades to HVAC systems (including geothermal heating and cooling technology), LED lighting installation, plumbing upgrades, building commissioning, and roof and window replacements. Project implementer CMTA created a corresponding educational program, CMTA Sphere, which teachers and students can use to support STEM education and energy literacy by using the school building as a teaching tool.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet has worked to improve energy efficiency in K-12 schools in the state successfully for many years, including through a program called the Kentucky School Energy Managers Program (see NASEO’s 2018 case study for more detail).
CMTA’s coverage of the Jennings Creek Elementary School and the Warren County Public Schools GESPC includes further information, along with case studies: https://www.cmta.com/news/wcps-cmta-unveil-zero-energy-school-announce-most-energy-efficient-school-district-in-ky.