The Business Case for Environmental Stewardship

Last week, two KY EXCEL member representatives had the opportunity to talk about their environmental successes during a session at the 2014 Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment, which was held in Lexington. KY EXCEL members Kim Harmon, Environmental Manager at Heaven Hill Distilleries, and R.J. Dyrdek, Energy Manager at Fort Knox Army Base, spoke at the Business Case for Environmental Stewardship session.

KY EXCEL is Kentucky’s voluntary environmental leadership program for individuals, businesses and organizations wanting to make a contribution to improving Kentucky’s environment.

A member of KY EXCEL since 2010, Heaven Hill Distilleries, which is the sixth largest distilled spirits supplier in the world and has 1,100,000 barrels aging, has focused the last five years on energy efficiency, water conservation and waste reduction. Ms. Harmon said that Heaven Hill replaced 662 metal halide, mercury vapor and fluorescent tube lights with four-lamp, F54T5HO High Bay fluorescent fixtures at its Bardstown location. As a result, there was a 55-60 percent load reduction for lighting in the warehouse, which translated to an approximate annual savings of $70,000. A Phase II project of installing occupancy sensors and replacing T-12 bulbs saved an additional 1.9 million kWh of energy.

Heaven Hill completed a water conservation project at its Louisville site. Their retention basin project decreased cooling tower water consumption by 60 percent, reducing water and sewer costs.

In 2011, Heaven Hill introduced an aggressive recycling program. Employees were educated about the new program and environmental awareness to gain their full support. A green team was created and incentives offered. In 2011, the facility recycled 130 tons of materials, but by 2013, that number had increased substantially to nearly 800 tons.

Ms. Harmon said these programs made an impact on the community, employees became part of the team and the entire experience has been very rewarding for everyone at Heaven Hill.

The U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Knox, which joined KY EXCEL in 2007, covers 109,000 acres, is the sixth largest city in the state and uses a lot of resources. Mr. Dyrdek spoke of the base’s efforts to gain control over its utility bills and conserve energy. In August 2011, the monthly electric bill for the base was a whopping $1,435,270. Now data meters are used to drive decisions and use energy wisely. Natural light is harvested when possible. There have been insulation upgrades, energy-efficient windows installed, geothermal installed for six million square feet of building areas and some natural gas harvested.

There is a big momentum to conserve energy now. Previously, soldiers had the mentality that their utilities were paid, so there was no need to conserve. After becoming environmentally aware, this has changed and everyone is involved in the project and excited. Since these efforts were made, the base’s energy consumption has been cut in half. Fort Knox has become the first army installation to be energy sufficient.

Nancy Givens, Sustainability Programs Development Coordinator for the Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability at Western Kentucky University (WKU), spoke about sustainable sites creating ecologically resilient communities that are better able to withstand and recover from episodic floods, droughts and other extreme water events. She did a presentation about the Habitat for Humanity Green Infrastructure Demonstration in Bowling Green.

If you enjoy protecting the environment and being a good steward, KY EXCEL wants you. We want to recognize the Commonwealth’s environmental leaders and inspire others to do the same.

KY EXCEL offers free membership with the voluntary commitment to an environmental project of the member’s choice. Nearly 200 KY EXCEL members are leaders in conserving energy and water and reducing waste. The projects they have chosen to undertake are diverse––from recycling to installing energy-efficient lighting to educating the public about how to protect the environment to creating rain gardens. The Division of Compliance Assistance hopes that others will be encouraged to join KY EXCEL and undertake environmental projects of their own after reading about the successes of current members.

For more information about the KY EXCEL program and to get ideas for projects, call 800-926-8111 or e-mail envhelp@ky.gov. Read about other KY EXCEL members and what they are doing to protect the environment at http://dca.ky.gov/Pages/ResourceDocuments.aspx under DCA Case Studies: KY EXCEL.

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