Georgetown begins nationwide energy efficiency competition
Last week, Georgetown formally announced its first ever Georgetown University Energy Prize , a nationwide competition which offers a $5 million incentive for U.S. communities to finds new ways to implement greater energy efficiency.
“The main objective is to transform the way America uses energy because right now in America today, we are wasting half the energy that we use,” Professor Francis Slakey, executive director of the Energy Prize, said.
The competition is open to municipalities in the U.S. with populations between 5,000 and 250,000 residents, in order to target smaller communities that don’t have the same established programs for energy efficiency as the country’s larger cities.
Organized by the Program on Science in the Public Interest and working with the Georgetown University Environment Initiative and the McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative, the competition originated in a workshop at Georgetown in 2012, where mayors, city planners, and sustainability specialists brainstormed solutions to the country’s growing problem of energy efficiency.
Thus far, 51 communities have already signed up before the competition has even started, which is much more than originally anticipated.
“I had thought we would have a successful competition if we could have 50 communities sign up,” said Slakey. “We’re trending large and we could have well over 100 competing in the prize.”
To determine a winner, data on energy consumption will be collected from each community for two years. The metric of energy is based on the total amount of electricity and natural gas delivered to all of the community residents. After two years, the top performers will go into a final round and be judged based on their overall achievement in how they were able to engage their community and in how applicable their sustainability method would be for other communities.
The $5 million grand prize will not come from the University, but from the American Gas Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, the competition’s sponsors. Additional collaborators include the U.S. Department of Energy, Deloitte, the American Public Power Association, and the National League of Cities.
“Right now public participation rates in energy are stuck at about 5 percent and it has been that way for decades. We are hoping that the prize will help us blow through that barrier and get more community engagement,” Slakey said.
For more details on the Energy Prize, read the Voice‘s news section from last week.
Photo: Noah Buyon/Georgetown Voice