It's not everyday you walk into a classroom that's powered by solar panels and wind
turbines, that uses rainwater to flush its toilets, or that is heated and cooled with
geothermal energy. And that's exactly why Franklin County Public Schools built one
at its Gereau Center for Applied Technology.
"They're immersed in the technology," said Neil Sigmon, an instructor in that classroom
-- which is called the Center for Energy Efficient Design or CEED. "So it's much
easier for them to get it than if they were learning the concept alone."
CEED gives students a place to explore the latest in green and renewable technology.
"There are thousands of points of data that come out of this building," said Dr. Mark
Church, Superintendent for Franklin County Public Schools. "And there's a lot of
different things we can do with it."
Since it opened, only Franklin County students have had access to CEED's resources
and the information they provide. But now, they've rolled out a new website so that
anybody, anywhere can access the information and learn from it.
"The concept of this building from the very start was to be a resource," said Sigmon.
The site -- or "dashboard" as they call it -- gives real time readouts on each of
CEED's renewable systems and how much energy they're producing. The dashboard also
includes lesson plans teachers can use in conjunction with the site to explain different
concepts to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
"We're hoping that educators would not only use our curriculum to teach but also will
give us other ideas," said Church.
Beyond K-12, Ferrum College is already using CEED and the dashboard for some of its
courses. And school officials believe it can be useful to professionals.
"It's a resource for anyone who wants to build a house and design it with solar panels,"
said Sigmon. "Or any architect, so they can see what to recommend and what is most
They say they're excited about the dashboard's future and hope it will power students
and new ideas for many years to come.