Energy Upgrade California, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the University of California’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory named Western customer the city of Riverside the winner of the CoolCalifornia City Challenge. The competition between 10 California cities to reduce their carbon footprint and better manage energy use began April 1. The cities earned points by individual households, small businesses and teams in the community by tracking their energy use and vehicle emissions.
The California Air Resources Board recognized the cities at its Oct. 23 meeting. Riverside competed alongside Arcata, Burlingame, Claremont, Corona, Chula Vista, Long Beach, Lynwood, Mission Viejo and Rancho Cucamonga. Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga, respectively, claimed the honor of second and third “Cool California Cities” in a hard-fought battle.
All participating cities will receive a portion of $100,000 prize based on their total points, with Riverside receiving the largest amount—$32,950. The prize money will go toward city programs that help the environment.
Getting residents involved
The challenge cities engaged nearly 4,000 households and civic groups in total to take simple, everyday actions to reduce their carbon footprint. Participants logged their monthly energy data and motor vehicle miles onto a website that determines how much carbon is being cut and calculates how many points those actions generated for each household and municipality.
More than 1,100 Riverside residents tracked their energy savings online and helped the city win the contest. Participants installed energy-efficient light bulbs, took to bicycles and walking and learned to think twice about turning appliances on. With fewer than half as many residents taking the challenge, Claremont came within 200,000 points of matching Riverside’s score of 3.5 million. Some steps contestants took, such as investing in rooftop solar or purchasing electric vehicles, will provide carbon reductions and additional savings for many years.
More than a game
Not only did the challenge save residents energy and money, it also demonstrated that cities play an important role in the state’s efforts to fight climate change and move toward a cleaner, more sustainable economy. Now in its second year, the competition had 40 percent more households and 60 percent more greenhouse gas reductions in half the time. Altogether, participants saved more than 800,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to removing more than 140 California homes from the grid or 80 automobiles from the road for a year.
Cash prizes for civic improvements, bragging rights and recognition are not the only reasons the cities took the challenge. CARB and its program partners also gained valuable information about how to motivate individuals to take voluntary steps to curb their carbon footprints. Voluntary actions are part of California’s ambitious climate plan, and CARB is developing tools and resources to support these non-regulatory efforts.
Participating cities realize that the challenge of energy management is not a one-time event. Managing energy efficiently, saving money and making homes and businesses more comfortable is a way of life. In taking the challenge, all of California’s “Cool Cities” are learning best practices to make their communities healthier and more sustainable, and that makes all of them winners.
Source: Fierce Energy via LinkedIn Utility Energy Forum, 10/28/14