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N. Arizona school gets off the grid but on the map with renewable energy

PHOENIX — A northern Arizona school is getting national buzz for its energy independence.

School co-founder and director Mark Sorensen said Star Charter is the first school in the country run completely on renewable energy. The U.S. Department of Education rewarded the school in April with the first-ever Green Ribbon Award.

When the Star opened in 2001, it had no access to public power. Located about 30 miles from Flagstaff, the school was built in a former junkyard on a rural site near a Navajo reservation.

“There were no power lines or utility lines out here so our only choice was to make it solar or wind-powered,” said Sorenson.

The Department of Education recognition is for schools that “exercise a comprehensive approach to creating green environments through reducing environmental impact, promoting health, and ensuring a high-quality environmental and outdoor education to prepare students.”

Star has also earned attention during the summer with a place on Scholastic Parent and Child magazine’s list of cool schools.