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The Center gets energy makeover
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During a sunny month, The Center for Community Preservation and Planning in downtown Covington can actually sell electricity back to the city of Covington.

The Center, located on Washington Street, was one of several buildings outfitted with solar panels last year through a state grant. Since the panels were installed in April, The Center has actually produced enough power during two different months to sell some excess electricity back to the city.

Kay Lee, The Center’s director, also received a separate state grant to renovate the building’s interior and make it energy efficient. The Center has made $100,000 worth of upgrades, including the installation of a tankless water heater, energy efficient appliances and lighting fixtures, dual flush toilets, programmable thermostats and recycled building materials and carpet.

The idea of The Center is to provide an apolitical environment to facilitate discussion on community issues between governments and the public. Lee wanted to share her story with the public, and students from the Montessori School of Covington were more than happy to help out.

The school was also a recipient of the solar panels and has promoted sustainable living for years. So, teacher Sara Vinson assigned her seventh and eight grade students the

"One of the keys of Montessori education is to get students out into the world to do projects," Vinson said. "The students had to interview their clients, The Center, and write a description that emphasizes what the client wants. It's the most realistic type of writing compared to what they'll do in the professional world."

task of studying the energy efficiency features and writing a short explainer, like one would find in a museum.

Eight grader Carly Travis chose to focus on the reusable building materials that coat The Center's walls, because she's seen a lot of older buildings that could use renovating.

"It's good that they can save so much money (by using recycled materials), and they're not wasting anything," Travis said.

For seventh grader John Sauer, the project hits home. His family was considering replacing their old water heater, so he studied the tankless water heater to do a little family scouting. After learning about the results, his family will make the $1,000 investment necessary to become more efficient.

For The Center, a building that runs on grants and public donations, every little help is greatly appreciated. The students' descriptions will be kept at the center to help educate residents who may be looking for ways to upgrade their homes.