The Kentucky Horse Park is committed to serving as a local, state and national leader in the promotion of environmental awareness and implementation of green initiatives. Our goal has been, and continues to be, to serve as an educational model, showing the many visitors to our park a myriad of ways they can learn to help the environment, while saving money. We believe that our environmentally focused efforts are not only fiscally responsible for us to pursue as a non-profit organization, but more importantly they are socially responsible for us to promote to the over one million visitors that come to the park each year.
During the last eighteen months, the Kentucky Horse Park has implemented many new green initiatives at a breath-taking pace. Our goal for the next three years is to expand and improve upon these existing projects, while continuing to explore new technologies and methodologies that will be both fiscally and environmentally sound endeavors for the park to implement. Following, are just a few of our existing green initiatives at the Kentucky Horse Park:
Energy From Waste (EFW) Plant
In February 2011, the park’s brand new Energy From Waste, or EFW, plant was brought on-line. This plant burns muck from the horse park, and turns that energy into electricity. While not new technology – it actually has existed for over 30 years – the Kentucky Horse Park’s EFW Plant is the first such plant located anywhere in the United States.
The EFW plant will be used to burn all of the Kentucky Horse Park’s muck, generating 1.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity for the park annually. And it has the capacity to expand beyond the park’s current muck output and grow with the park over the years to come.
This EFW Plant recycles what otherwise would be waste products. By burning our muck on location, we are going to save approximately $130,000 from our annual budget previously expended on hauling the muck from the park to local landfills. Moreover, we are saving space in the landfills, and reducing the fuel consumption and green house emissions from the transportation which is no longer needed. Finally, the EFW Plant will provide the Kentucky Horse Park an annual credit of $80,000 on our electric utility bills, while generating that electricity from a sustainable mix of horse manure, shavings and hay, rather than through coal or fossil fuels. The by-product of the process is a low-grade ash that can be used to fertilize gardens and fields.
Because it burns so hot, very few emissions are produced from the burning of the muck in the EFW plant. The park obtained a special air quality permit, as part of the EFW start-up, verifying that the plant does not produce pollutants that will negatively impact the air quality. We will continuously monitor the air quality and regularly report on it as part of the permit process.
Stream Vegetation Project
In 2010, the Kentucky Horse Park partnered with the University of Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture to install a Stream Vegetation education site along one of the streams in the most heavily trafficked area of the park, next to our covered arena. This project is designed to protect the Cane Run Watershed, which is the water source for the city of Georgetown, from environmental pollutants. The natural plants specially selected for the site are planted so that they will catch contaminates from storm water run-off, before those contaminants go into the stream. Signage has been placed at the site, explaining the project, as a way to educate visitors to the park about Stream Vegetation and how it can be replicated in their own home environments. We hope to expand the present site to more areas within the park in future years.
Dolphin Ozonate System
In the fall of 2010, the Kentucky Horse Park installed a new Dolphin Ozonate System for the in-ground swimming pool located in our campground. This system will allow us to reduce by 90% the amount of chemicals normally used to keep the public pool sanitary and clean. Not only will decreasing the need to purchase the chemicals prove to be a huge cost savings for the park, but most importantly, we will no longer be using pool chemicals known to be harsh on the environment. Furthermore, our guests will be able to enjoy a safe, clean swimming environment without themselves being exposed to chlorine or other harsh chemicals. We look forward to our first season of operating the pool with this new system in the summer of 2011.
In 2010, the park ventured into two new solar powered projects. First, we installed Solar Hot Water Heaters for use in the campground bathrooms and shower stalls. We also installed a new solar powered industrial trash compactor in the new Alltech Indoor Arena at the park. Again, this will help save costs and decrease consumption of electricity.
Improved Energy Efficiency
Obviously, not all electrical energy can be replaced with other sources, but many times the efficiency of that electrical consumption can be greatly improved upon. Through the last eighteen months, the park has undertaken an effort to greatly increase our energy efficiency. We have replaced 20 transformers throughout the park with more energy efficient models. We replaced several 30 year old HVAC units with much more efficient heating and air conditioning systems in several buildings. In our International Museum of the Horse, we replaced many of the traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs. Not only will the LED bulbs help us save energy and money, they also will better preserve the delicate artifacts in our museum collection.
Storm Water Drainage Alternatives
In 2010, the park undertook three additional projects to help prevent contamination from storm water run-off. First, we installed slip linings in the sewer pipes throughout the park. This process involved placing fiberglass tubes inside the 30 year old clay sewer pipes, and then blowing the tubes up like a balloon to create a seamless, watertight seal within each pipe. The new lining prevents storm water from entering the sewage pipes. Having storm water mix with the sewage not only causes higher sewage bills for the park, but it also results in unnecessarily treating clean rain water, thereby wasting energy.
Another new endeavor involved the installation of Porous Asphalt around the newly constructed Alltech Indoor Arena. This project, undertaken in relationship with the Asphalt Institute, allows water to drain naturally, through the asphalt, and go immediately into the watershed. This porous asphalt material is better for the ground water than the storm drains typically installed in asphalt, as it naturally cleans some of the contaminants through the drainage process. It also saves the park significant expenses related to our water bill because it is not considered an impervious pavement.
Porous Pavers, which use the same technology as the porous asphalt, have also been installed around the park to improve the speed and cleanliness of rainwater drainage into the watershed.
Need for Private Philanthropic Support
To date, the Kentucky Horse Park has been able to implement these green initiatives through a combination of private and public support. For instance, the University of Kentucky partnered with us to install the Stream Vegetation project and the EPA provided a grant to help build the EFW Plant. In time, the savings generated by these various initiatives will help pay for the costs, and we estimate the cost of the current initiatives will be recouped in full from savings earned through the projects within twelve years.
In the meantime, however, private philanthropic support is needed to expand upon and grow these existing initiatives. We would like to explore new initiatives as both financial assistance and technology become available. Wind power, electric vehicles, and other solar powered alternatives are just a few of the projects we wish to research and consider for the park.
We would also like to expand upon our ability to educate the public about our green initiatives and environmental conservation in general. We envision making the EFW Plant a tour site, and having the ability to provide classroom education about the technology to local high school and engineering students. We also would like to increase our signage around our various projects to help explain the technology we are using and the effect it has on the environment.
A donation to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation designated for support of the park’s green initiatives would provide us with the financial support and flexibility needed to continue, improve and expand upon our efforts to be a leader in implementing and educating the public about environmental awareness and green initiatives.