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Cities to Compete for $5M Energy Prize

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

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From Providence, RI, to Fairbanks, AK, communities across the U.S. have accepted an energy challenge for a chance to win $5 million.

The Georgetown University Energy Prize is a first-of-its kind, multi-year national competition that aims to dramatically improve America’s energy standing by encouraging cities to “rethink their energy use,” according to a contest announcement.

Providence, RI
Will Hart / Flickr

Providence, RI, is among the more the 50 communities that have signed on to compete for the Georgetown University Energy Prize.

Open to nearly 9,000 U.S. communities with populations between 5,000 and 250,000, the contest specifically focuses on household and municipal consumption of electricity and natural gas.

The deadline to enter is June 30. So far, more than 50 communities have signaled their intent to compete for the purse, according to Georgetown University officials.

The winning community will be announced in 2017, following quarterfinal and semifinal rounds.

Contest Details

During the two-year contest period, the communities will work with their local governments, residents and utilities to reduce energy consumption.

A judging committee will evaluate competitors on a specific set of weighted objectives, including their ability to:

  • Spur innovative, replicable, scalable, and continual approaches for communities to decrease their energy consumption;
  • Highlight best practices for working with utilities, businesses, and local governments to create and implement inventive plans for increased energy efficiency;
  • Educate the public and engage residents on energy efficiency issues, including methods, benefits, and the environmental costs of the full fuel cycle; and
  • Collaborate with schools to educate and inspire the next generation of energy efficiency leaders in the U.S..

‘Radical Thinking’ Needed

The contest was initiated to help raise the energy-efficiency program adoption rate across the country, according to Dr. Francis Slakey, the executive director of the prize.

Currently, the rate sits at 5 percent despite many initiatives and incentives available, he says.

“We need radical thinking, starting at the community level, to fix this ‘stuck’ problem,” Slakey said.

In a video announcement, Slakey said the country must “mine for [energy] efficiency as expertly as we mine for coal, or petroleum, or natural gas.”

Program Partners, Funding

The Georgetown University Program on Science in the Public Interest is leading the contest, with support from the McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown University Environment Initiative.

The U.S. Department of Energy, The Joyce Foundation and the American Gas Association are also supporting the program.

All funding for the prize is being provided via private and outside donors. Fundraising is ongoing.

More information and to apply:


Tagged categories: Building Envelope; Contests; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Government

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