FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Fort Smith Public Schools’ energy conservation success has led to 17 of its buildings earning EPA “Energy Star” certification.

According to a press release from the school district, this recognition is presented to the most energy-efficient buildings in the country.

“We are extremely pleased to receive this recognition from Energy Star,” said Shawn Shaffer, Executive Director of Facility Operations. “It’s proof we’re operating healthier, more efficient buildings for our students and community.”

“Our energy conservation efforts are helping protect the local environment,” he added. “Just as importantly, the environmental impact is equal to taking 1,785 cars off the street or planting 126,792 trees in our community. We are proud that our program’s success is being recognized by Energy Star.”

Fort Smith Public Schools buildings earning Energy Star Certification include Beard, Bonneville, Carnall, Cavanaugh, Euper Lane, Fairview, Howard, Orr, Park, Spradling, Sunnymede, Sutton, Tilles, Woods, Chaffin, Ramsey and Northside High School. To earn Energy Star Certification, buildings must rate in the top 25 percent nationwide for energy efficiency.

The cost of utilities is a large budget line-item for Fort Smith Public Schools, and the prices for electricity, natural gas, heating oil and water have been steadily increasing. Fort Smith Public Schools has reduced its energy consumption by 25.2%.

“Each of us can make a difference through energy conservation, because people use energy, buildings don’t,” Shaffer continued. “There are dozens and dozens of changes, large and small, that we have implemented that are saving energy while helping reach our comfort and educational goals. We have all gained a real sense of accomplishment from this Energy Star recognition.”