Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has been recognized for the district’s work in sustainability.

The district was chosen by the Center for Green Schools as one of only five districts in the nation to receive a School District Scholarship for next year.

The scholarship will allow the district to participate in the School Sustainability Leaders’ Summit and provided an an all-inclusive trip to the Greenbuild International Conference in Chicago, which took place in November.

CHCCS sustainability director Dan Schnitzer says the opportunity to meet people from around the world working in a wide range of different fields was a great experience.

“Often when we’re dealing with green schools our focus gets somewhat limited over time, whether it’s specifically to recycling, composting [or] energy reduction,” says Schnitzer. “We rarely have an opportunity to really branch out and see whats happening industrywide.”

After five years of heavy focus on sustainability from an operational perspective, the district was able to reduce their energy and utility use by 23 percent, Schnitzer says, which saved upward of $3 million.

Schnitzer says this recognition of all the district’s hard work has brought him a renewed interest in striving for sustainability.

“To realize that we have made a lot of progress, and even though at times it might feel like that progress is slowing down, there are a lot of areas that are doing a lot of different things,” says Schnitzer. “Some more, some less, but different.”

CHCCS was the only district in the southeast to receive this honor.