Hoke County school generates more energy than it uses

Hoke County school generates more energy than it uses

The new Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County is the most advanced facility from an energy perspective on Lumbee River EMC’s entire system.

As the school year opened in August, the Hoke County Board of Education, Hoke County government and the community at large celebrated the opening of their newest facility, Sandy Grove Middle School, the nation’s first “net-positive” leased public school. A “net-positive” facility is one that generates more energy than it consumes.

The building also qualified for the highest certification level in the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification recognizes a building’s design and performance in minimizing impact on ecosystems and water resources, promoting efficiency in water usage, using innovative energy systems and environmentally sustainable building materials, and enhancing indoor environment through air quality and access to daylight and views.

The 74,000 square-foot educational facility in Lumber Bridge includes a large photovoltaic solar array, geothermal heating and cooling systems, high efficiency lighting and additional spray foam insulation. Because of the large number of solar photovoltaic panels, the school is expected to save Hoke County Schools nearly $35 million over the next 40 years — $16 million in energy costs alone. Hoke County leases the building.

Lumbee River EMC worked closely with the school’s architect, SFLA Architects and general contractor, MetCon Construction, since the beginning of the construction phase of the school to ensure the interconnect between the school and the co-op’s distribution network was safe. Steven Hunt, Lumbee River EMC’s president and CEO, said “Any time there is a generator that is being permanently connected to our distribution system, it is important that it be done in such a way that it can be safely operated not only by the school system, but our employees too. MetCon and SFLA have been excellent partners for us to work with in making sure this happened.”

In addition to partnering on the interconnection of the school’s solar system, LREMC also provided an incentive for the energy efficiency measures implemented in the school. “I believe it is fair to say that Sandy Grove Middle School is the most advanced facility that we serve in terms of energy efficiency,” Hunt said.

Lumbee River EMC is the Touchstone Energy cooperative that serves more than 53,000 member accounts in Hoke, Robeson and Scotland counties and parts of Cumberland County

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