It was announced last week that Hilltop Elementary School has achieved the U.S. EPA's Energy Star rating. The school had conserved 35 percent of its energy usage over the past year.
"It started a few years ago when then Superintendent Dante Zambrini and business manager Rich Archer began looking at ways of saving energy in the district," said Hilltop Principal Cathy Mowry.
The two school officials put high school teacher Evona Delon in charge of putting a program together to make the schools more energy efficient, thus saving in energy costs. At Hilltop, the new program was taken very seriously and everyone worked together to make things happen.
"Our motto is that we are in it together and we support one another," Mowry said.
She said the steps that were taken were actually simple things like turning off lights, turning off computers and keeping steady temperatures in the classroom. Everyone got behind that effort and even made sure energy was only used where needed.
"If someone passed a classroom with the lights on and no one was in it, they would shut the lights out," Mowry said. "The same with computers left on and no one using them."
Archer said the school was also totally shut down for summer and other breaks in the school year. He said the old thought was to leave lights on overnight.
"The police told us they preferred it to be dark," Archer said. "So we cut back on the lighting."
When the final tally came in, Hilltop was found to have cut its energy consumption by more than 35 percent. The savings came entirely through modifying behavior.
"There was nothing we did mechanically to achieve that savings," Archer said. "It all came from changing behaviors."
News got back to the U.S. EPA, which declared Hilltop as an Energy Star building. The school was added to the EPA's Energy Star national listing and a certificate was sent to Hilltop and presented last week.
Archer said Delon is really the driving force behind the energy saving program. He said over the past 27 months since the program began, the energy savings for all the district's buildings have totaled more than $380,000. He said while Hilltop achieved the 35 percent savings level, the other buildings are coming along.
"They will someday make the EPA list as well," Archer said.
As for Hilltop's achievement, Mowry said the real heroes are the staff and students who have all come together for the common good.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be the leader of such a great staff," she said. "We are a Star staff and now we have the star (Energy Star) to prove it."