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Montana "SMART Schools" recognize for improving energy efficienc - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Montana "SMART Schools" recognize for improving energy efficiency and saving tax dollars

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From left, Dennis Holmes, Principal, Billings Senior High,  Gov. Steve Bullock, Billings Public Schools Facilities Director, Scott Reiter (MTN News photo) From left, Dennis Holmes, Principal, Billings Senior High, Gov. Steve Bullock, Billings Public Schools Facilities Director, Scott Reiter (MTN News photo)

Three Billings schools are among 13 Montana public schools showing they have the "know how" when it comes to “Saving Money And Resources Today” (SMART).

As part of the “SMART Schools Challenges,” they were selected as winners for their cost effective approach to energy savings. Each school will receive a $1,000 award to support ongoing efforts in energy improvement efficiency.

Four schools in Billings School District 2 were honored, including Billings Senior High where Gov. Steve Bullock was on hand Tuesday to present the check.

“For the period of October through January, we saw $85,000 in cost avoidance here at Billings Senior High alone since the start of the energy project,” said Scott Reiter, Billings Public Schools facilities director. “The baseline year was July of 2007 through 2008. That’s at the baseline for the whole district.”

“Since July of 2008, the month after the baseline year, Billings Senior High is over $600,000 in energy savings.The district as a whole has just hit the $5 million mark the end of February for total energy cost avoidance,” said Reiter.

Reiter said every year, the district looks for more ways to save energy.

“Whether it’s a dripping faucet, a toilet that might be running constantly, it all adds up. Computers, if we can find any way to turn them off sooner. Heating and cooling systems, if we can tighten up as far as we can go, so they are never running, and training people to turn lights off and how important it is,” he said.

Reiter said the entire school district supports the program, which also benefits taxpayers as well.

“The staff all throughout the whole district is on board with the energy savings.The board of trustees supported the district’s policy on energy savings, so everybody is behind it working towards a common goal. As we get new staff, they are trained, and everybody just work towards the main goal to save energy and be very efficient with the taxpayer dollar. Every little bit helps, and that’s the biggest part to get across to everybody,” said Reiter.

The winning schools were recognized for their work in “Energy”, “Green” and “Recycling” challenges.

In South Central Montana, Billings Senior High, Sweet Grass County High, Meadowlark Elementary, and Alkali Creek Elementary Schools were recognized for promoting energy efficiency.

Elsewhere in the state, Helena High, Sleeping Giant Middle School in Livingston, Arlee Joint School District and Alder Elementary Schools were singled out for promoting environmentally friendly practices. Also making the list for their efforts to implement or enhance recycling programs are Will James Middle School, Central School in Roundup, Red Lodge High, Brorson School in Sidney and Cohagen School in Cohagen.

Through the challenges, the schools found ways to improve energy efficiency, promote healthy and environmentally sound practices, and reduce waste by either implementing or expanding recycling and composting programs.

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney will present awards to Sweet Grass County High School, Meadowlark Elementary School, Sleeping Giant Middle School and Will James Middle School. Also on Wednesday, Gov. Bullock will present an award to Arlee Joint School District. On Thursday, Cooney will make an appearance at Helena High to present its award.  

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