Energy efficiency celebrated at Earth Day Kentucky

SSP-jpeg-EarthDay KY logoEarth Day 2017 for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet took on an energy efficient theme as the Cabinet hosted the celebration of environmental awareness on April 19 at its LEED certified building, 300 Sower Boulevard in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Director of Communications John Mura welcomed employees gathered in the first-floor training space at 10:30 a.m., while more than two dozen exhibitors lined the hallway outside.

“As Kentuckians, we live in one of the most naturally beautiful and diverse places in the world,” Mura said. “Thanks to your efforts, Kentucky has made great progress in becoming a cleaner, healthier state.

“Did you know, for instance, that we’ve cleaned up more than 1,200 waste dumps across the Commonwealth in the past five years? Or removed pollutants from 130 miles of Kentucky streams and rivers? Or have seen the air get dramatically cleaner in places such as Louisville and Northern Kentucky where in the last 16 years, the state has cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 86 percent?”

Following Mura’s remarks, Amy Sohner, executive director of Bluegrass Greensource, a nonprofit environmental education organization serving Central Kentucky, spoke about taking personal responsibility for the environment.

“It is so important that we all get involved in not only Earth Day, or Earth Week, but make it Earth Day every day,” said Sohner. “We all need to change the way we think about our actions and thoughts that we each see how much everything we do impacts our environment.”

Haley McCoy, executive director of the Office of Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs for the Cabinet, presented the student winners of the ‘Capture the Earth’ photo and video contest.

Read about all of the day’s activities and view the winning photos and video at the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s “Land, Air & Water” webzine.



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KPPC engineer to serve as judge at state conference

Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) Senior Sustainability Engineer Mark Toda will serve as a judge for the Kentucky Technology Student Association State Conference on April 24. The event is being held April 24-25 at the Crowne Plaza Louisville Airport Expo Center in Louisville. Toda and other professionals within the competition areas will judge middle and high school events during the conference. The KPPC is a division of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering at the University of Louisville.

“Throughout my career, it has been a pleasure to work with students,” Toda said. “I appreciate their energy, desire to contribute and willingness to learn. The KYTSA Conference is a great opportunity to encourage students and maybe pass along some helpful insights.”

The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national organization of students engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Open to students enrolled in or who have completed technology education courses, TSA’s membership includes more than 233,000 middle and high school students in approximately 2,000 schools spanning 49 states. TSA is supported by educators, parents and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. Members learn through exciting competitive events, leadership opportunities and much more.

The diversity of activities makes TSA a positive experience for every student. From engineers to business managers, TSA alumni credit the organization with making a positive influence on their lives. The Kentucky Chapter of TSA (KYTSA) has seen a resurgence this year. It currently has over 300 more students affiliated with it than this time last year.


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Earth Day – The world’s largest civic observance

SSP-jpeg-EarthDay-imageThe concept of Earth Day was established in 1969 at a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Conference in San Francisco. On March 21, 1970, a sanctioned Proclamation was signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations.

The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed.

Twenty years later, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Growing out of the first Earth Day, the Earth Day Network works with more than 50,000 partners in 196 countries to build environmental democracy. It works through a combination of education, public policy and consumer campaigns.

Learn more about 2017 activities nationally at the Earth Day Network website.

Also, check out these resources for ways to celebrate Earth Day on your own or locally:

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Free trees make Kentucky more green

SSP-jpeg-KY-Energy-LogoOne of the most popular programs of the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF), is the state nurseries and tree seedlings program. With a target of growing 1.5 to 2 million seedlings each year, the division is doing its part to help reforest the Commonwealth.

“We gave away around 50,000 seedlings this season alone,” said Eric Gracey the forestry program manager with the KDF. “They are a great icebreaker to get to talk to people about planting trees and even some of the other great programs we offer. Everyone loves a free tree.”

With two seedling nurseries in Morgan and Marshall counties, the KDF is able to offer over 50 species of trees native to Kentucky, with the exception of the blight resistant Chinese chestnut. Some of their most popular varieties of trees are the dogwood, redbud and the sugar maple.

“We have actually seen a shift in demand for bee-friendly trees too,” said Gracey. “Trees likes like black locusts, yellow popular, dogwoods or any flowering tree are the first to go.”

The nurseries also have seen bottomland hardwoods go up in demand. Swamp white oak, pin oak, bur oak and over cup oak have become remarkably popular according to Gracey. Currently, feedback from the community has foresters exploring requests for basswood. Seed availability also strongly dictates what trees will be grown and offered to the public.

“We have five regional offices. When our foresters get out and give free trees in the communities, it’s usually for educational purposes.It also starts to build relationships with people in the community,” said Gracey. “It makes our folks that familiar face, and that’s a good thing. We want our people to be approachable and known. We want the word out on our programs and we want more trees in the ground.”

More trees in the ground is not only good for the Energy and Environment Cabinet, but it also has countless environmental returns such as enhancing wildlife habitat, improving urban areas and reclaimed surface mining sites. Not to mention the economic benefits of cleaner air, water and lower utility bills for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

According to Gracey most of KDF’s free trees are given away around Earth Day and Arbor Day to raise awareness of the earth and how important each and every tree planted is.

Read the full article on the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet’s “Land, Air & Water” webzine.

Seedlings are available for purchase in the KDF nurseries until the end of April for packages of 10 seedlings for $35, 50 seedlings for $55 and 100 seedlings for $70.

Seedlings may be purchased by contacting your local KDF Regional Office. For more information and pricing, visit the KDF State Nurseries and Seedlings website or the nursery order form [PDF].


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Grants available from Waste Tire Trust Fund

EEC LogoKentucky counties can now apply for $4,000 grants to be used for recycling and waste tire removal. The grants are funded through the Energy and Environment Cabinet’s Division of Waste Management (DWM) Waste Tire Trust Fund.

“This is a great opportunity for communities to remove waste tires and we encourage all counties to take advantage of this grant. Eligible expenses under this grant are the actual costs that the county incurs during the grant period for recycling or disposal of waste tires,” said Gary Logsdon, manager of DWM’s Recycling and Local Assistance Branch. “Other expenses, such as labor and equipment costs, are not eligible.”

The grant period is July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018. Costs incurred by a county beginning July 1, 2017 for recycling or disposal of waste tires are eligible. Counties must submit receipts for those costs with their close-out report form by July 15, 2018.

Waste tire Grant applications must be submitted no later than June 1, 2017. These grants do not require a match. Any unused funds must be returned to the Cabinet by July 31, 2018.

The grant packets are being sent by email to county judge-executives and solid waste coordinators.

View the full article for more information in the “Naturally Connected” blog by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

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Teaching today for a bright tomorrow

Every June, select high school students completing their sophomore and junior years from across the Commonwealth, head to the University of Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland 4H Education Center to experience a weeklong adventure exploring Kentucky’s forests, wildlife and bugs.

The Kentucky Forest Leadership Program (KFLP) began over 50 years ago and has greatly evolved during that time. It is all made possible with the cooperation of the U.K. College of Agriculture, the Food and Environment Cooperative Extension Service, the Kentucky Division of Forestry and the Kentucky Division of Conservation.

“The first day of camp participants get introduced to one another, the subject they will be investigating for the week and then they learn the basic tools to gather some of the information for their investigation,” said Laurie Taylor Thomas, KLFP Coordinator and Extension Forester with the U.K. Department of Forestry.

“Consulting firms” made up of students from each track, or area of interest- forestry, wildlife and entomology- and are gently guided by a wide variety of natural resource professionals as they collect data and do investigations throughout the week. At the end of the week the students come back collectively with their firm and share their findings. From there, the students then create a management plan for the 80 acres of mixed forestland they have been assigned. This teaching experience allows the students to learn through peer teaching throughout the week instead of the usual student/teacher experience giving a definite more hands on experience and one many won’t forget.

Reminiscing on their adventures, the campers eyes widen and their voices practically bounce off one another as they finish each other’s sentences, stand up to tell stories and of course, laugh constantly. And though most campers agree that the camp left them with new skills, clearer priorities and enhanced confidence, they certainly did not forget to have fun.

“What could be more fun than learning new facts about trees and insects?” said camper Elijah Schultz who participated in 2016. “The things we learned were incorporated into fun team activities and competitions throughout the week. We did things like a scavenger hunt, Jeopardy-style trivia and a tree-planting race. There was hands-on learning as well. We gathered insects from nearby streams, wetlands, fields, forest and even a cave! And what we gathered, we actually used to make collections. On hikes, we learned to identify trees by actually seeing real specimens rather than just looking at pictures and reading about them in books. At each presentation, there was something interesting to watch or do, from skinning a beaver to even flying a drone.”
But the camp fun wasn’t only limited to the student campers. Forester Chris Oelschlager with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, has been involved with the program since 1997. When she began teaching at the camp, she wasn’t much older than the students and admits to having as much fun, if not more than the campers.

“KFLP is probably my favorite week of the work year, and I look forward to it each summer,” said Oelschlager. “I’m always impressed with how much they learn throughout the intensive, fast paced week. On Monday afternoon we start them with basic tree identification and by Friday morning they are presenting detailed management plans for 80 acres of mixed forestland. Until it ends on Friday, I don’t even think they realize how much they have done throughout the week.”

Read the full article on the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet’s “Land, Air & Water” webzine.

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4 Kentucky organizations ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year

Energy Star Award LogoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are honoring 143 businesses and organizations in 34 states and the District of Columbia for their commitment to saving energy, saving money and protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency achievements, according to a press release from the EPA.

Four of the 2017 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Awardees are Kentucky-based businesses or organizations. They are:

Kenton County School District (Fort Wright, KY), Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence in Energy Management. This award is given to organizations for adopting a continuous energy management strategy across the organization’s entire portfolio of buildings and plants. The Kenton County School District is receiving consecutive recognition for its commitment to building and operating energy efficient schools, and for using ENERGY STAR tools and resources as a central component of its energy program. Read about the Kenton County School District’s accomplishments.

Kentucky School Boards Association (Frankfort, KY), Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence in Energy Efficiency Program Delivery. This award is given to states, utilities and other organizations for sponsoring energy efficiency programs to improve the efficiency of products, homes and buildings within their community or territory. The Kentucky School Boards Association is receiving consecutive recognition for its commitment to intelligent energy choices for new and existing public schools to enhance both the environment and educational opportunities for the Commonwealth’s 650,000 public school students. Read about the Kentucky School Boards Association’s accomplishments.

Big Ass Solutions (Lexington, KY), Award for Excellence in Product Design. This award is given to companies that demonstrate leadership in the design and manufacture of ENERGY STAR-certified products. Big Ass Solutions is receiving consecutive recognition for its demonstration that energy efficiency and environmental considerations are paramount to producing quality products for the American consumer. Read about Big Ass Solutions’ accomplishments.

Olin Brass (Louisville, KY), Partner of the Year – Energy Management. This award is given to organizations for adopting a continuous energy management strategy across the organization’s entire portfolio of buildings and plants. Olin Brass is receiving recognition for formulating an energy management program with EPA’s ENERGY STAR resources. Read about Olin Brass’ accomplishments.


The 2017 ENERGY STAR Award winners lead their industries in the production and sale of energy-efficient products and services, and in the development and adoption of strategies that provide substantial energy and money savings in the buildings where we live and work. The winners have been selected from a network of 16,000 ENERGY STAR partners.

The awards will be presented in Washington, D.C., at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on April 26. Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO, will give the partner keynote presentation.

Award categories:

  • Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence: The 97 Sustained Excellence winners have demonstrated continued leadership over several years in the ENERGY STAR program and in achieving environmental protection through superior energy efficiency.
  • Partner of the Year: Thirty-seven organizations have been awarded the Partner of the Year Award for comprehensively managing their energy use, promoting ENERGY STAR products and practices in their own operations, and providing energy-efficient products and services to their customers.
  • Excellence: Nine winners are receiving recognition for demonstrating outstanding promotion of energy-efficient products, homes or buildings.
  • Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year: Two of the Partner of the Year Awardees are winning at least in part for their superior efforts in promoting the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy with support from EPA.


Read about all 143 awardees.


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‘Creating a Green Footprint’ Workshop April 26

If you have ever wondered how you, your business or your community could reduce greenhouse gas emissions daily, there is a workshop designed for you. The Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center (KPPC) and KY EXCEL, Kentucky’s environmental leadership program, have partnered to organize a free “Creating a Green Footprint Workshop” to be held on April 26. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government will be hosting the workshop from 12:30–4:30 p.m. EDT at the Tate Building located at 125 Lisle Industrial Avenue, Suite 180, in Lexington. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. followed by the workshop at 1 p.m.

During this half-day event, the Division of Compliance Assistance (DCA); the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, an Inaugural Leader member of KY EXCEL; Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, a KY EXCEL Leader member; and the Division of Forestry will share their knowledge and expertise. Participants will leave knowing the basics of how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent pollution from everyday activities through heating and cooling or planting a tree. Participants will not become experts, but will gain a general overview in order to create a green footprint. Each attendee will leave the workshop with a free sapling to plant.

What will be covered?

  • How to reduce greenhouse gas emissions daily
  • Cost and GHG emission analysis of multiple heating and cooling options
  • Insight into creating a forestry program
  • Guidance on tree planting and sapling care


Please see the workshop agenda for additional details. [PDF]

This workshop is free, but registration is required. For more information and to register, please visit the workshop website. Seating is limited, so reserve your spot today!



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New resource for farms using distillers grain

dca-logo-jpgDistilleries in Kentucky make 95 percent of the world’s bourbon, as well as a variety of other spirits. Distilling spirits requires the use of many different grains, including corn, wheat, rye, and barley.

After the grain is used in the distillation process, it is left over as a by-product. Distilleries often work with farmers to use the leftover grain as a livestock feed. Since the distillery industry has grown quickly over the past few years, there is much more distillers grains available than in the recent past.

Distillers grains turn rancid very quickly, sometimes lasting only a few days. This short shelf life, combined with more of the grains being available, means that it is possible a farm could have grain that it is unable to feed to livestock. If this happens, there are options on how to properly manage the leftover grain.

The Kentucky Division of Compliance Assistance (DCA) has made a factsheet that covers proper management of leftover distillers grains. The “Distilling By-Products on the Farm” factsheet [PDF] is available online.

View the full article for more information on the Naturally Connected blog by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.


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