Sacred Heart Academy honored for energy efficiency

The recently renovated Ursuline Motherhouse, which received high efficiency boilers, is seen in this November 2020 file photo (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Sacred Heart Academy recently received Energy Star certification and two local awards for its work to conserve energy.

The school announced Feb. 23 that it had earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star certification for superior energy performance.

Buildings that receive the Energy Star certification use on average 35 percent less energy, emit 35 percent less greenhouse gases and are less expensive to operate than similar buildings without the certification, according to Sacred Heart’s press release.

David Noltemeyer, Sacred Heart Schools’ director of facilities, said the efforts are money-saving, but are also a response to Pope Francis’ call to care for the environment and keeping with the tradition of the Ursuline Sisters — founders of Sacred Heart Schools.

Cammie Byrd worked Nov. 24 in the Semmes Family Vestibule, part of the renovated Ursuline Motherhouse. The renovation included new boilers that are about 96 percent energy efficient. (Record Photo By Ruby Thomas)

“The pope, in (the encyclical) ‘Laudato si’,’ has asked that schools, churches and anything associated with the church should take notice to conserve energy,” said Noltemeyer in a recent interview. “The Ursuline Sisters have also always been huge in making sure we’re doing the right things when it comes to the environment.”

Kevin Sauer, who has served as engineer for Sacred Heart Schools for three decades, said the schools’ efforts have contributed to a 20 percent reduction in campus-wide energy use. SHA has cut down on energy use primarily by:

  • Installing automated systems that Sauer programs and can control remotely. These systems turn on and off, heating and cooling buildings at different times of the day depending on whether the building is in use or not, he said. The heating system, for instance, uses a hot water boiler that will shut off once the temperature outside reaches 60 degrees.
  • Using ventilators that draw air from outside to circulate indoors.
  • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs, which use less electricity. LED bulbs are used across the Sacred Heart Schools’ campus, including in parking lots, Sauer noted.

“It takes a lot of planning and it’s a daily process to make these buildings operate efficiently,” said Sauer in a recent interview. But the savings add up. Over the past two years, SHA has seen savings of up to $245,000 on it’s electric and heating bill thanks to these efforts, he said.

A statue of St. Angela Merici, founder of the Ursuline Sisters, stands in Angeline Circle at the entrance of Sacred Heart Academy, 3115 Lexington Road. The school recently received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star certification. Sacred Heart was also awarded the 2019-2020 K-12 “Kilowatt Crackdown Award” from the Louisville Energy Alliance and the “Julie Shinton Fried Sustainable Schools Award” from the local Partnership for a Green City. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Installing high efficiency systems across the campus helps with the overall goal, too. For example, high efficiency boilers — that are about 96 percent energy efficient — were installed in the Ursuline Motherhouse when the historic building was renovated over the past year. The goal is to earn an Energy Star certification for other buildings on campus, said Sauer. A couple of the Sacred Heart Model School buildings are close to earning the certification, he said.

Dr. Karen McNay, president of Sacred Heart Schools, said in a press release that saving energy is a way of showing the schools care about the community.

“We’re honored to earn the Energy Star for superior energy performance at SHA and appreciate the efforts of everyone who has been involved in its efficient operation,” McNay said. “As Catholic schools, saving energy is just one of the ways we show our community we care and that we’re committed to doing our part to protect the environment and public health, both today and for future generations.”

In addition to the energy star certification, SHA received the 2019-2020 K-12 “Kilowatt Crackdown Award” from the Louisville Energy Alliance, a non-profit whose mission is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency and conservation efforts, according to its website.

“This award recognizes building owners, operators, and leaders who have exemplified dedication to reducing energy usage within their facility,” according to the release.

SHA also received the “Julie Shinton Fried Sustainable Schools Award” from the local Partnership for a Green City in January.

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