Kentucky's Battle of the School Buildings

Kentucky's Battle of the School Buildings

Kentucky's Battle of the School Buildings

Woodford Co.'s Southside Elementary wins inaugural energy Battle
Kentucky School Advocate
July/August 2017
By Matt McCarty
Staff writer
KSBA-SEMP presented the first place award during a ceremony at Southside Elementary School. Students at Woodford County’s Southside Elementary School are energized about energy savings, and that helped the school win the inaugural Kentucky’s Battle of the School Buildings competition.

“For those in attendance at the ceremony at Southside, you could tell the students were excited. They recognized that they had made a difference,” Woodford County school board Chairman Ambrose Wilson IV said. “This whole effort made them better understand the importance of the environment and saving energy. It was a win-win for the district.”
KSBA-SEMP presented the first place award during a ceremony at Southside Elementary School. From left – former KSBA Executive Director Mike Armstrong; Woodford County Superintendent Scott Hawkins; Southside Elementary Principal Jason McAllister; Woodford County Energy Manager Ralph Slone; Southside Elementary student Keegan Connell; KSBA-SEMP Energy Services Coordinator Martha Casher; and Woodford County school board Chairman Ambrose Wilson IV. 

Southside reduced its energy use by 24.68 percent during the competition, narrowly besting Bourbon County Elementary’s 24.51 percent reduction. Two other Woodford County schools – Northside Elementary and Safe Harbor Academy – finished third and 10th, respectively.

“Our goal was how do we do everything we can to try to conserve energy and save on our energy costs,” Woodford County Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. “I don’t know that we set out to win this competition as much as we just wanted to try to do everything we could to save energy.”

In the summer of 2016, the district replaced the HVAC systems at both Southside and Northside elementaries. Hawkins noted both units were original to the 25-year-old buildings and were in need of replacement. The district also put in more efficient lighting.

“We’ve actually been able to only have to turn on about half the lights with the new lighting compared to what we used to have to do,” the superintendent said. “And then we put in new lighting in our gyms that are much more energy efficient. They also go off when there’s no motion, so that’s nice.”

Woodford County Energy Manager Ralph Slone said the district’s philosophy is “if you can measure it, you can save it. And then when you save it, you reinvest it.”
2017 competition information at “We started school-wide, from the youngest students all the way up to the superintendent and board members,” Slone said. “We started with the low-hanging fruit – turning lights on, turning them off, making everybody aware of how much it does cost to run HVAC systems. And we focus on using as little as possible of these energy sources in the nighttime, when nobody’s there.”

The district also focused on changing habits of the students.

“(KSBA-SEMP Energy Manager) Jim McClanahan was real big in this when he was a part-time energy manager (for Woodford County Schools),” Slone said. “His focus was on classrooms. Students just love anything new or anything they can get involved with. And we also called it the energy diet where they could take that home and show the parents how to save, watch their energy bills and save money at home by doing the same things. And that’s a win for us because if they get in a habit of doing that at their homes, they’re going to do it at school.”

Southside and Northside’s energy reduction resulted in cost savings of $7,000 and $5,000, respectively, during the 12-month competition. Slone estimated the district will get about $40,000 in rebate money.

A group of Southside students formed an energy club to help spread the word among their classmates. The group placed stickers on light switches in the entire building “to remind everyone to turn off lights when not in use,” said fifth-grader Keegan Connell.

“We’ve learned that most of our energy comes from sources that are not renewable so we all have to try our part to conserve it,” Connell added.

Energy philosophy over the past 25 years has changed, Wilson said. The shift is now for districts “to do things better and save resources.”

Bourbon County Elementary Principal Keith Madill said his school has automatic shut-off lights in classrooms. HVAC repairs also helped his school finish second in the competition.

“I think we’re a great example of the fact that you always have to monitor, I think with everything you do, whether it’s student testing data, achievement or something like energy consumption, you really need to monitor it,” Madill said. “We’ve already identified a few things that need to be tightened up so we’re working on that every day.”

There were 131 schools that participated in last year’s contest.
Kentucky's Battle of the School Buildings Top 10
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