Fayette County Public Schools wants to paint some green on the Bluegrass with two upcoming construction projects.
The school district says it will emphasize earth-friendly technology to reduce energy use and promote environmental sustainability at its new Locust Trace Agri-Science Center on Leestown Road and the new elementary school planned for Keithshire Way. Green concepts also will be integrated into the education experience at the facilities, district officials say.
Construction bids on the projects haven't been opened and building plans are preliminary, so it's unclear just how green each project will be. That probably will hinge on the costs of various green technologies and how much savings they might generate over time.
But Mary Wright, the district's chief operating officer, said the two projects should be the most environmentally friendly facilities the district has built. And green technology figures to be part of district plans from now on, shesaid.
"We want to be more environmentally conscious, and a number of interested community groups have come to us and offered support in that regard," Wright said. "So, we're looking at utility usage, building design, curriculum planning and the impact of things like the new stormwater fees. It's all part of trying to take a more global approach."
The district incorporated some green concepts into its Athens-Chilesburg and William Wells Brown elementary schools. But the green effort will be shifting into high gear with Keithshire Way and Locust Trace, both of which are scheduled to open for the 2011-12 school year.
The Keithshire Way school — it has no other name yet — will accommodate more than 500 students and is intended to ease overcrowding on Lexington's south side.
Locust Trace, which will have a classroom building and an arena for livestock, will be an 82-acre working farm where students can study equine and agricultural science, horticulture and related subjects.
Here are some of the green provisions being considered:
■ Buildings at both sites will be oriented to welcome morning sunshine and shade out harsh late afternoon sun, reducing power needs for lighting and cooling. Special ICF walls will provide high-insulation values. ICF stands for insulating concrete forms
■ Keithshire Way will "harvest" and "manage" daylight to supplement its standard electrical lighting. Automatic sensors in classrooms and other areas will turn lights off or on as needed, saving energy.
■ Rainwater from roofs at Locust Trace will be collected and stored for irrigating soil and watering livestock. A deep well will supplement drinking-water needs. Livestock waste will be controlled. The overall goal is for the farm to "sit lightly on the land."
"It's an opportunity for the school district, and students, to really do green education, hands on, understanding the environmental impact of daily decisions," says Susan Hill, an architect with Tate-Hill-Jacobs who is working on Locust Trace. "And it will be marvelous to have an actual agri-science education facility for the 21st century, right in the middle of a state where agriculture and the equine industry are so critical."
Preventing or limiting stormwater runoff at Locust Trace and Keithshire Way will be a top priority, district officials say, both to protect the environment and to save on the new water-quality fees the city charges for runoff. Those charges can be steep for schools or other facilities that have lots of paved area.
One idea to reduce runoff at Locust Trace and Keithshire Way would be to replace traditional asphalt on parking areas with permeable concrete paving that would let rainwater seep back into the ground. But a decision on that is being evaluated because of the up-front costs.
Another environmentally attractive but expensive idea — using photovoltaic cells to help produce renewable energy at both sites — also is under review. For example, equipping Locust Trace with photovoltaic could cost about $1.7 million, according to architectural estimates. District officials will carefully evaluate such costs before making any decision.
But Joe Turley, an architect with GBBN Architects who is working on the Keithshire Way plan, says green technology increasingly makes dollars and sense in today's world.
"We all hear that it's great to recycle and be energy efficient," Turley said. "But with the economy being the way it is now, it's also cool to save money."