Cane Run Elementary is Showcase for Energy Efficient Projects

by Erica Peterson on March 15, 2012

State organizers are packing up after a two-day conference in Louisville highlighting sustainable building practices for schools. Today’s agenda included a field trip to Cane Run Elementary.

Cane Run Elementary is an older school, located just off Cane Run Road near Rubbertown. But in 2009, it underwent major renovations. Over the span of several months, Jefferson County Public Schools transformed the building into an energy-efficient environmentally-friendly structure. Now it’s one of the district’s two Environmental Studies Magnet Schools.

The building is so impressive, it’s one of two that architects, engineers and school administrators are touring as part of this year’s High Performance Sustainable School Buildings Workshop, organized by the National Energy Education Development Project.

Cane Run Elementary’s classrooms are heated with geothermal energy. There are solar panels on the roof for the water heater. The walls are painted with low-VOC paint and some of the interior classrooms have natural light streaming in through state-of-the-art solar tubes.

But it’s the more obvious sustainable features that really excite the students. They point out their recycling bins and compost piles. And during a tour of the outdoor classroom, fifth graders Michelle and Kenneth brag about all ways they learn about their environment.

“This is our amphitheater and over here we’ll sit on the rocks and we’ll look and see what kind of birds are near and all the insects and we listen to the animals,” Michelle says.

A lot of that is under the direction of Darleen Horton, the magnet coordinator. Horton teaches the students about nature and the environment, but also looks for ways to incorporate the environment into other school subjects.

She points out a pond in the outdoor classroom.Fifth graders Michelle and Kenneth stand near the school's "pizza garden." The garden grows ingredients for pizza toppings and teaches students about fractions.

“They saw the changing states of matter around the pond,” Horton says. “They saw the ice and then they could also tell if the temperature started rising, it started evaporating and you could see a little bit of fog rising. What a perfect way to learn about the water cycle!”

Some of the Cane Run Elementary’s environmental features are pricey. But Horton reminds the workshop participants that most of them aren’t, and much of the outdoor classroom was free.

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