Kentucky, known as the Bluegrass State, is not new to the field of clean technology, especially renewable energy and energy efficiency. A state hit hard by the economic recession, Kentucky is always looking for ways to help its residents save money and afford the current cost of living, which includes have energy. As such, many organizations have formed to promote clean, sustainable energy, and numerous schools, businesses, and homeowners are getting involved by doing what they can to increase use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Provided below are just ten highlights of cleantech in Kentucky.
1 ) Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance. The Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance is an organization working to promote sustainable, clean, and affordable energy solutions throughout the state of Kentucky. Through ideas, understanding, resources, and political support, the Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance wants to help all residents of the state save energy and money, especially to those men and women vulnerable to rapidly changing energy conditions and rising costs. Their principles include making energy efficiency a top priority for the state, promoting renewable energy, create new jobs through renewable energy ventures, and have all residents take advantage of it as well.
2 ) Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium. The Kentucky Renewable Energy Consortium was established in 1994 at the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering to provide “the resources, expertise and experienced engineering and technical staff to help Kentucky’s businesses, industries, and other organizations stay environmentally sustainable and competitive in a global market.” The consortium has had over 600 workshops, training sessions, and seminars to help organizations and businesses improve overall environmental performance and decrease operating costs.
3 ) University of Louisville. In 2011, the University of Louisville scored a B on their Green Report Card, created by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The University of Louisville has done a lot of work to incorporate sustainability into the campus’ master plan, including collaborating with city-based sustainability initiatives as well. All new buildings need to meet LEED Silver Certification standards as set up by the United States Green Building Council and currently there are two LEED Gold Certified buildings on campus. In 2011, university-owned busses started utilizing biodiesel that was generated by cooking oil in the engineering school.
4 ) University of Kentucky. The University of Kentucky was also listed in the 2011 Green Report Card by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. The university has been working had to integrate principles of sustainability into all guiding documents. The President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee has done a lot, including working with the athletics department to increase recycling programs at all football games. Subsidized public transportation passes are provided to all students and there is a free bike-sharing program. Faculty and staff that carpool to work receive preferential parking.
5 ) Eastern Kentucky University. Eastern Kentucky University has their own Sustainability Committee that created a formal environmental master plan according to their 2011 Green Report Card by the Sustainable Endowments Institute. In this master plan, for instance, all new buildings and renovations need to incorporate LEED standards and around 75 percent of all demolition and construction waste is diverted from landfills. Other things the university has done include reducing water use, getting students involved in sustainability initiatives, and running a shuttle service to and from campus from satellite parking lots.
6 ) Kentucky Financial Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. In an effort to help residents and businesses in Kentucky afford making the switch the renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, the state of Kentucky has created a number of incentives for renewables and efficiency. These incentives include corporate tax credits, local loan programs, performance based incentives, personal tax credits, state grant programs, state loan programs, and a slew of utility rebate programs from some of the major energy providers in Kentucky, including TVA, Atmos Energy, Kentucky Power, Duke Energy, and Jackson Energy Cooperative.
7 ) Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research. The Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the University of Louisville “promotes partnerships among the state’s colleges and universities, private industries, and non-profit organizations to actively pursue federally and privately funded research and development resources that are dedicated to renewable energy solutions.” The ongoing objective of the center is to find outcomes that will enhance global energy as well as economic security while maintaining United States technological leadership in the development and deployment of advanced energy technologies. Some major research initiative areas include energy efficiency and conservation, biofuels and biomass conversions, renewable energy storage, solar energy conversion, and advanced energy materials manufacturing.
8 ) Kentucky Solar Energy Society. The Kentucky Solar Energy Society is made up of solar professionals, engineers, concerned citizens, government officials, educators, and utility company representatives who are looking to make Kentucky healthier, more productive, and much more secure through the use of renewable energy, namely solar energy. One of the focuses of the Kentucky Solar Energy Society is that on net-metering, which would allow residents of the state to connect to various renewable energy systems to the electric grid.
9 ) Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition. The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition was created in 1993to provide alternative fuel resources to educators, consumers, and providers of alternative fuels and alternative vehicles in Kentucky. This nonprofit organization has the mission “to link providers and users of fuels across Kentucky to the best information and education available about clean energy technologies. We carry out that mission by building partnerships between providers and users of fuel, and by raising awareness about the benefits of using those technologies.” The primary focus of the coalition is how to incorporate alternative fuels as well as advanced technologies for both mobile and stationary needs into individual industry requirements while still committing to environmental stewardship and overall air quality.
10 ) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. Established in 1988, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education has looked to advance agricultural innovation to promote not only profitability, but also stewardship of land, water, and air, as well as quality of life for all farmers. Kentucky is part of Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. The vision is to help in building up sustainable agriculture in the area.
Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.