March 30, 2012 By Sarah Rich
A red state on the political map recently got some major recognition for being a green state.
Earlier this month, Kentucky garnered the 2012 Energy Star Partner of the Year award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kentucky officials said it was the first time an entire state government has been recognized in this award category.
Energy Star is a program of both the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy to help save money through by using more energy-efficient alternatives, according to the Energy Star website.
“We submitted consideration for Energy Star partners for a couple different programs, and [the EPA] selected Kentucky because we had so many different programs across the board, enterprisewide in state government,” said Cindy Lanham, director of communications for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet – a branch of the state’s government that oversees all of the state buildings and utilities.
The state implemented energy efficiency programs in public schools, reached out to the state’s local governments to help with ways for reducing energy costs, and completed other programs to improve energy efficiency.
Among those initiatives is a real-time website Kentucky launched in January that allows the public to view a dashboard tracking cost savings stemming from the Commonwealth Energy Management and Control System (CEMCS) pilot project. Funded by $3.6 million of federal stimulus, Kentucky has installed a software platform to track energy usage within the state buildings, monitor and maintain building systems, electronically audit current and past utility bills. The system generates notifications if energy usage exceeds a pre-set usage amount.
From the website, users can click on the name of a state building and see the building’s percentage of energy saved compared to 2009, and can also view the building’s cumulative dollar savings also compared to a 2009 baseline. The site gives a brief historical description of the each building, the building’s square footage and occupancy.
According to Gov. Steve Beshear’s office, each of the participating state buildings is ranked — factoring in the building’s energy usage per square foot. If a building consumes too much energy, that building is then “targeted for further investigation and energy conservation measures.”
The project is part of Beshear’s Smart Government Initiative and is expected to save $600,000 annually, which will result from the state implementing greener building operation changes.
Forty-three state buildings at 23 different sites across Kentucky are participating. Through the new system, Kentucky is expected to reduce energy usage in state buildings by up to 40 percent, according to the announcement.
According to the state Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson’s Communications Office, an Energy Star award also was given separately to two other Kentucky state agencies — the Kentucky Housing Corporation and the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center for efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by helping state residents stay informed on how to be more energy efficient.
“My administration has been committed to reducing our energy bills and consumption, and preserving our planet for future generations” Beshear said in a January statement. “Innovative energy conservation measures, such as CEMCS, are Kentucky’s best defense against rising energy costs.”
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