Inderscience Publishers

Net-zero energy: a case study on renewable energy and policy issues at Richardsville Elementary School, Kentucky

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Blazing the trail as the first net-zero energy school, Richardsville Elementary School, Kentucky produces as much renewable energy as it consumes. The high performance, LEED® Gold certified facility was opened in October 2010 for 550 students. Key elements included insulated concrete form-walls, geothermal HVAC systems with decentralised and distributive pumps, active day-lighting with light shelves and Solatubes®, roof-adhered thin film photovoltaic systems, and Bio-swales®. The facility has an outdoor classroom with wireless, solar-operated weather station that measures rainfall, temperature, humidity, wind speed, carbon dioxide, solar and ultraviolet radiation and real-time software for uploading data to media centre and internet. The school operates energy-based curriculum strategy for active student learning and engagement to enhance critical thinking regarding energy conservation and environmental health sustainable technologies. From both economic and environmental perspectives, the idea of generating energy from sustainable sources without pollutant emissions has very powerful appeal and should be strongly encouraged.

Keywords: Richardsville Elementary School, net zero energy, high performance green building, LEED gold-certified, renewable energy, solar panels, geothermal HVAC, technology adoption decision models

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