On Monday, Rep. Lois Capps honored Cate School in Carpinteria for its sustainability initiatives and leadership.

The school recently received U.S. Green Building Council‘s Platinum LEED Certification, the highest possible rating, for the sustainable design and function of five new faculty homes on the school’s campus. Cate now has five of just more 100 Platinum-certified residences nationwide.

At an all-school assembly, Capps presented Cate School a congressional commendation: “This certificate of congressional recognition acknowledges your sustainability efforts and your outstanding and valuable service to this community … you have made a tremendous step forward.”

Capps spoke of the vital role everyone must play, particularly youths, to change the energy policies that govern the country. “It will take one building, one project at a time,” Capps said, “to turn our planet’s attention towards all of the challenges we face today.”

Capps then toured the new homes and met with seniors Nick Brown, Maddie Johnston and Priscilla Wilson to talk about the wide range of sustainability initiatives happening at Cate, led by the administration, students and faculty.

Cate’s Environmental Club focuses on raising awareness in the community and helps in many local conservation efforts; the Water Wizards and the Climate Society, two award-winning student groups, have analyzed the school’s energy and water usage to investigate ways to conserve; the dining service strives to buy much of its organic food locally; and a new water treatment facility will significantly reduce the school’s impact on local water supply.

“Congresswoman Capps’ passion for the environment is evident,” Johnston said. “It was wonderful to meet a representative who shares our goals for a sustainable future.”

Headmaster Ben Williams said: “Congresswoman Capps’ gracious acknowledgment of our work around issues of environmental responsibility and sustainability, and her overarching message that we all can and should do our very best to make a difference in this world is most welcome here at Cate.”

Don Orth is Cate School‘s communications director.