Riley County, Kansas, in partnership with Kansas State University, GBA Architects +Engineers, and GBA Builders, LLC, has been awarded a three-year, $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The grant will be used to implement “Resourceful Kansas”, a program designed to engage communities throughout the state in making a fundamental shift toward a less energy-intensive, more efficient economy. Riley County is one of 35 communities in the country selected from approximately 200 applicants to receive the DOE grant. The grant is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is administered under the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program.
“Resourceful Kansas is a very exciting program designed to reduce energy consumption, increase efficient energy practices, help Kansas harvest its abundant, nonpolluting wind and solar resources, and cultivate new economic opportunities throughout the state,” says the Resourceful Kansas team. “This innovative program will engage local governments and others in implementing projects that will save energy and demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of sustainable energy and economic development strategies for Kansas and surrounding states.”
Devised as a multi-step program to be implemented over a three-year period, Resourceful Kansas will first add renewable energy features to the recently completed Riley County Public Works (RCPW) facility located at 6215 Tuttle Creek Blvd., Manhattan, KS. This facility, which is an award-winning model for sustainable design, already incorporates many energy features including geothermal heating and cooling, abundant natural light, energy saving T-5 florescent light fixtures, central controls, and high R-value insulation throughout. Rod Meredith, Assistant Director of the Riley County Public Works Department, serves as project manager for the Resourceful Kansas team and helps to ensure that the RCPW complex incorporates green building and energy efficient systems. “From the earliest planning stages, we did our best to meet the County’s vision of helping save taxpayer dollars by being a leader in the State of Kansas in implementing renewable, energy-efficient systems at our new public works facilities,” he said.
Through this grant, the installation of additional renewable technologies at the public works site will include four wind turbines (100kW, 40kW, 20kW and 2.5kW), a thin-film PV solar system, a solar hot water under-floor heating system, four PV solar powered street lights, and a waste-oil heater. The energy produced by this equipment will provide more than enough electricity to power the public works facilities.
During the program, the effectiveness of the renewable energy features will be evaluated and the information shared. Kansas State University’s (K-State’s) Wind Applications Center, with Director Dr. Ruth Douglas Miller, will compare energy produced by the wind turbines installed at RCPW with data measured from an existing meteorological tower on-site. The data will also be used for the development of an electrical system model with the goal of producing strategies to permit the “islanding” of micro-grids or small localized electrical distribution systems. K-State’s Wind Applications Center will also assist in developing on-site displays and web displays of the data for the public to view. The information will be made available to schools and K-State students for educational purposes.
The primary focus of the program will be one-day seminars offered to cities, counties, state agencies, colleges and universities, and agribusinesses across the state. These seminars, coordinated by K-State Engineering Extension, with David Carter RS, EMS-PA, will be held at the RCPW facility and will provide participants with an unprecedented opportunity to learn first-hand about sustainable technologies and practices to improve energy efficiency as well as provide the resources available for implementing them.
Following the seminars, GBA Architects and Engineers, with Jennifer Gunby PE, LEED AP, will conduct on-site energy assessments for selected participants that will address energy usage, renewable energy generation, and transportation impacts. The assessments will include customized cost/benefit reviews and development of prioritized lists of energy-saving technologies and recommended modifications. They will assist participants in selecting the most appropriate improvements, including consultation regarding design considerations, permitting requirements, and funding alternatives. “Our goal is to translate these opportunities into successful, comprehensive projects with immediate, measurable, and sustainable reductions in energy use and air emissions,” said GBA.
During the three years of the project, the team will monitor the results, including projected reductions versus actual energy savings achieved and estimated project costs versus actual costs, and will summarize the aggregate results of the program. Resourceful Kansas will conclude with public outreach to ensure that the benefits of the program extend beyond the immediate participants to others throughout the state and region. The team will publicize case studies, including innovative technologies, issues encountered, and lessons learned on a newly established Resourceful Kansas website.
By publicizing these stories, the team expects to amplify the impact of individual projects and create a resource with references for others to follow.