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Kinard Earns Green Ribbon School Award

On Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced that one Colorado school has earned the prestigious national Green Ribbon Schools Award.

Kinard Core Knowledge Middle School was among 64 schools honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education (Green Ribbon Schools Criteria and Pillars).

“Today’s honorees are modeling a comprehensive approach to being green,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “They are demonstrating ways schools can simultaneously cut costs; improve health, performance and equity; and provide an education geared toward the jobs of the future. In fact, the selected districts are saving millions of dollars as a result of their greening efforts. And the great thing is that the resources these honorees are using are available for free to all schools."

Built in 2005, Kinard continues to be a national leader in environmental leadership and sustainable design. With unique energy features like geothermal heating and cooling, wind powered electricity, and open-space daylight features, Kinard is the only school in the state of Colorado that scores a perfect 100, based on Energy Star rating standards. In fact, Kinard was the first school in the nation to move from a “Designed to Earn” Energy Star status to being awarded the Energy Star Award within the first year after occupancy in 2007.

Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Kinard Middle School’s efforts to reduce environmental impact and minimize energy costs is the sustainability of the building. In the true essence of the word sustainability; the energy savings at Kinard is only getting better as the building gets older. In 2012, Kinard hit its lowest energy usage yet with a mark of 20.1kBTU/sq. ft./year, the lowest in the state of Colorado. Poudre School District and Kinard Middle School are also committed to reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions. Based on Platte River Power Authority data, Kinard has documented a 57% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions from 2006-2012. While some external factors, like major weather patterns, influence the data above, the conservation efforts of staff and students are remarkable considering that the building is now seven years old and still setting state records for energy and cost reductions.

A variety of innovative building features and technologies are what make the conservation efforts of Kinard possible. The most unique of which, the geothermal HVAC system, provides year round heat and air conditioning and very low utility costs. This on-site geothermal system circulates water underground to capture the natural thermal energy from the earth and pumps it back into the building where it is converted into comfortable indoor air temperatures for staff and students. The building is also equipped with a superior building envelope, low-E operable windows, and an automated energy management system to provide a maximum efficiency of energy usage.

While Kinard devotes 100% of its electrical usage to off-site wind credits, electricity consumption is reduced greatly due to the transparency of the building. Solatubes® and other architectural features are designed to maximize natural daylight throughout the school. Colorado has over 300 blue-sky days annually, which helps to minimize the use of electricity and provides a healthy learning environment in the classroom. The facility is not the only unique trait that defines Kinard. Student leadership programs are the heart of all environmental conservation efforts and sustainable practices that drive the healthy culture at Kinard. Kinard C.A.R.E.S. (Community – Action – Results –Environment – Service) is one of a variety of student leadership groups at Kinard. This dedicated group of students have designed, built, and implemented one of the most successful resource management systems in the State. This four-stream recycling and composting center diverts over 20,000 lbs. of food waste from the landfill each year at a diversion rate of over 84%. Student leaders in Kinard C.A.R.E.S. and Global Leadership classes have also taken an active role in spreading important environmental awareness, reducing use of plastics, improving local air quality, and promoting a healthy, active lifestyle. These exceptional student contributions were recognized as one of only four schools in the state to receive the Bronze Achievement Award from the Colorado Environmental Leadership Program.

Teachers at Kinard believe in providing students with an authentic and engaging learning experience that reflects the civic responsibilities they will face as citizens in the real world. This guiding value, combined with a powerful Core Knowledge curriculum sequence, creates a genuine 21st century learning experience. With a focus on whole child education, students at Kinard have the opportunity to explore a variety of applications in STEM, while maintaining a well-balanced experience in the arts, humanities, and wellness. Environmental science curriculum is integrated into theme-based units across all grade levels at Kinard and connects state standards to important community issues regarding air quality, water quality, alternative energy, and erosion through the use of Project Based Inquiry Science books. Student leaders in science also engage in adventure travel trips to Catalina Island, CA and Costa Rica to serve other communities around the world.

Kinard’s academic approach has yielded excellent results in achievement and growth. Based on the school performance framework that is used to evaluate schools, Kinard “exceeds” expectations on the academic achievement indicator. Science test scores reported that 83% of Kinard students were “proficient and above” in 2011, as compared to the state average of only 49%. Clearly, Kinard Middle School truly making as big of an impact on its students as it does on the sustainability of the community.

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