BY JACKIE CAMER
Takoma Park, long known for its environmental activism, has been chosen to compete in the semifinal round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use. One of only 50 communities in the semi-final round, and the only community in Maryland competing, Takoma Park hopes to show the largest reduction in municipal and residential energy use, using the most innovative and replicable methods, in order to win the $ 5 million prize.
The communities, which are small cities and towns, will work to lower consumption over the next two years, after which one winner will be chosen in June 2017. All applicants were required to have a population of fewer than 250,000, making a city such as New York City ineligible to apply.
“I was thrilled to learn Takoma Park made it into the semifinals. Of course it’s a bit daunting seeing the huge task ahead of us,” said Gina Mathias, Takoma Park’s sustainability manager.
Takoma Park has created a challenging and promising Sustainable Energy Action Plan. The plan will involve home owners, apartment and condo dwellers, and the City in the effort to reduce energy use, save money, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions together.
“The enthusiasm in these communities is contagious,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Executive Director of the Prize. “This is the first time so many governments, utilities, and community groups will be working together to reduce energy consumption.”
“Without our community involvement, we would have no chance of winning, that’s one thing I believe Takoma Park has over other cities. The first step is reducing energy at home,” Mathias said.
To kick start Takoma Park’s effort, the city has three new programs for residents:
1. Energy Coaching
2. Green Home Certification
3. Neighborhood Energy Challenge
In total, over the next two years, Takoma Park and fellow participants have the potential to save more than $1 billion in total energy costs and cut millions of tons of CO2 emissions.
“This contest is just the beginning to something more, an opportunity for Takoma Park to be a role model for other cities,” said Mathias.
For more information visit: http://www.takomaparkmd.gov/sustainability