The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet has recognized Pendleton County High School, Philip Sharp Middle School, Southern Elementary and Northern Elementary Schools for earning the prestigious ENERGY STAR, a national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy performance.

The districtwide energy savings earns Pendleton County schools the distinction of ENERGY STAR Leader and ranks the schools collectively in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationally.

Certificates signed by Gov. Steve Beshear were presented to Pendleton County Superintendent Anthony Strong during the Jan. 17 board of education meeting, which was also attended by representatives from the Kentucky School Boards Association, school principals, teachers, students and district leaders.

“Pendleton County Schools is pleased to be named an EPA ENERGY STAR Leader,” Strong said. “Through this achievement, we have demonstrated what can be done with proactive energy management, school leadership, and teachers who engage students in energy conservation. Our energy manager, Nathan Wright, has been instrumental in all four Pendleton County schools earning the ENERGY STAR label and the district’s recognition as an ENERGY STAR Leader.”

Throughout the past two years, Pendleton County schools have undergone renovations districtwide to improve efficiency. The renovations have included lighting upgrades, installation of HVAC automated monitoring systems and occupancy sensors in rooms, and purchasing of high-efficiency equipment. Student energy teams also played an integral part in the school’s energy efficiency and sustainability programs creating an energy saving culture among students and staff throughout the district.

According to Wright, Pendleton County school district energy savings in 2012 totaled more than $77,000; reducing electricity consumption by 579,686 kilowatt hours and preventing emissions of 1,224,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.

“This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity use of 83 homes for one year, or the amount of carbon sequestered annually by 455 acres of pine forests,” Wright said.

With the addition of these four schools, Kentucky is now home to 197 school facilities that have received the ENERGY STAR.

ENERGY STAR Leaders must meet one of two energy efficiency improvement milestones: a 10 percent improvement in energy performance across the entire building portfolio or perform, on average, in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide. To be eligible for ENERGY STAR Leaders recognition, organizations are required to track and submit energy performance data for all buildings and fuel sources through EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager Tool.

Nationally, ENERGY STAR Leaders have cumulatively saved more than $150 million on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by nearly 95,000 homes.

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. With help from EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, thousands of businesses and organizations are improving the energy efficiency of the places where we work, play and learn and are saving billions of dollars and preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere each year.