Energy expo to highlight sustainable living

By Ashley Bowman

When Ben Perry realized the grass wasn’t getting any greener, he conceptualized a mainstream event where any person who drives a car, buys groceries or pays bills for heating and rent could learn about sustainability.

Three years after the first Bluegrass Energy Expo, Perry has continued expanding the event to promote a vision of living greener and more energy efficient in Lexington.

The 2007 Bluegrass Energy and Green Living Exposition begins tomorrow at the Lexington Center and will feature more than 60 booths with commercial, non-profit, educational, government and faith-based exhibitors providing information for citizens looking for more information about creating a sustainable community.

The expo will feature a “cruising cleaner car show” and an art exhibit accompanied by performances from local musicians.

People can also visit the energy discovery zone, learn about their ecological footprint and conduct an energy audit of their homes using computer software. Other attractions include a miniature solar electric house, and local and organic food.

The event is the only one of its kind in the nation combining a focus on sustainability and healthy living in both the community and in homes, Perry said, and he hopes the expo “may be a template for other communities to have similar activities available.”

Perry’s desire to make Lexington more energy-efficient coincides with UK Greenthumb, a student group with about 40 members that meets weekly to discuss environmental issues and is volunteering with the regional event.

Brittany Zwicker, a communication disorders senior and Greenthumb co-coordinator, said the group shares similar goals for UK’s campus.

“UK as an institution is an integral part of Lexington, but sometimes we have trouble actually reaching out and interacting with community members outside of the university,” Zwicker said. “This shows people that college students are motivated and ready to be a key part in starting change.”

At Greenthumb’s meeting this week, students signed up to volunteer at the expo and members took a handful of posters to distribute around town. Student volunteers will help with activities, such as setting up tables and booths, working in the kid’s activities area and greeting expo goers at the welcome center.

“Not only does it get Greenthumb’s name out there as an organization on campus that really gets involved in community events, but it’s important that we sponsor fun activities that can educate people on environmental issues like energy consumption and let the public know what sorts of ‘green’ things are going on in our region,” Zwicker said.

Zwicker said she volunteered last year and enjoyed many of the hands-on exhibits, including a bike that shows what it feels like to power a light bulb.

Workshops this year will run throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. Speakers’ topics will include making Lexington bike friendly, efficient lighting and windows, biofuels and building sustainable cities.

The Bluegrass Energy and Green Living Expo will be running on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. in Heritage Hall at the Lexington Center. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for students and free for kids 16 and under.

For more information visit the event’s Web site (