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13 Montana Schools Get $1,000 For Energy Efficiency and Environmentally Sound Practices

Jackie Yamanaka

Billings Senior High School saved taxpayers $85,000 in energy costs over a 4-month period.

Governor Steve Bullock applauds the effort and awarded the school $1,000 for its efforts under the SMART (Saving Money and Resources Today) Schools Challenge. 

During a visit to Billings Senior, Bullock recognized the school for providing a learning environment that’s also energy sustainable.

“It’s the equivalent of CO2 savings of 93 vehicles parked for a full year,” he says. “It’s taking a look at the ways we can be responsible for our learning environment, for the taxpayers and the overall energy future of the state.”

Energy efficiency is taking place across School District 2, says Facilities Director Scott Reiter.

He says new energy efficient windows were installed in several schools, there have been upgrades to HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, and staff are taking other measures.

“Making sure lights were off, making sure computers were shut down on breaks, even this last summer the water fountains were unplugged over the summer,” Reiter says. “Every little bit adds up.”

Reiter says all of these measures across SD 2 have saved taxpayers $5 million dollars as of February.

Of that, adds Bullock, $85,000 in savings came just from Billings Senior over a 4 month period.

“So that’s $250,000 that can be used for instructional efforts, for our educators to build a community that otherwise would have gone right out the window in electricity costs,” Bullock says.

Other winning schools under the SMART Energy Challenge:

  • Sweet Grass County High School, Big Timber
  • Meadowlark Elementary School, Billings
  • Alkali Creek Elementary School, Billings

SMART Green Challenge (promotes more environmentally friendly practices)

  • Helena High School, Helena
  • Sleeping Giant Middle School, Livingston
  • Arlee Joint School District, Arlee
  • Alder Elementary School, Alder

SMART Recycling Challenge (implements or enhances recycling)

  • Will James Middle School, Billings
  • Central School, Roundup
  • Red Lodge High School, Red Lodge
  • Brorson School, Sidney
  • Cohagen School, Cohagen

The SMART Schools Challenge is a partnership of the Governor’s Office, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the U.S. Green Buildings Council-Montana Chapter. Funding for the program is made available through DEQ.