Kentucky High School Goes Green, Receives Award

George Rogers Clark High School in Lexington, Ky. received Center of Excellence sustainability award for its geothermal and chilled beam design.

Kentucky's Clark County Public Schools (CCPS) received the Center of Excellence award from SEMCO LLC, Columbia, Mo., for a sustainable and energy cost-reducing green design at the new George Rogers Clark High School, Lexington, Ky.

The 300,000-square foot, Winchester, Ky., high school is one of North America's most sustainable school building and uses a geothermal-based chilled water loop combined with SEMCO chilled beams and dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS) for its innovative heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. The state-of-the-art building is recording 35-percent less monthly utility costs versus the 30-percent smaller conventional high school it replaced.

The school's advanced indoor air quality (IAQ) helped contribute to a district-wide 1.5-percent attendance increase last year which earned a $200,000 government-awarded attendance incentive. Furthermore, the school is bigger than most high schools nationwide and ranks as one of Kentucky's largest, but is recording a 31.9-k/BTU energy use index (EUI) which is significantly less than the 68-k/BTU EUI of an average sized U.S. school. 

Superintendent Paul Christy and the building's architect Ron Murrell Jr., AIA, principal, RossTarrant Architects, Lexington, Ky., received the inaugural award on behalf of Clark County Public Schools from SEMCO's Director of Sales, Tom Rice, at SEMCO's Columbia, Mo.-based Research & Development Laboratory.

Christy, a former CCPS director of operations who oversaw the GRCHS design, now plans retrofitting an older district school and its HVAC. Chilled beams will be specified again, but because of the facility's circa 1970's thinly-insulated envelope, potential condensation will be proactively controlled with recently-developed chilled beam pump modules, which Christy reviewed with other technology at SEMCO's 100,000-square-foot lab.

"Paul Christy is a rare breed of school superintendent who searches for and understands cutting-edge HVAC technology, because he realizes it not only cuts school operating expenses and taxpayer costs in the long run, but also provides a better learning IAQ environment for students and teachers,” said Rice.