And the winners of the Neighborhood Energy Challenge are ...
By Gina Mathias
The competition was very tight for the $2,000 Neighborhood Energy Challenge prize. The results were so close that a tie was declared! The winning teams will work closely with staff to use their prizes for neighborhood sustainability projects, such as developing new community gardens, installing rain barrels, or helping neighbors in need.
The Neighborhood Energy Challenge was a yearlong competition among eighteen teams representing all Takoma Park neighborhoods. Individual households participated by taking actions to save energy at home, such as getting energy audits, increasing insulation levels and sealing air leaks. Points were awarded to homes that achieved Green Home Certifications. The three levels of Green Home Certification – light, medium, and dark green – corresponded to increased measures taken to save energy.
Residents who achieved Green Home Certification receive a metal yard sign and stake with a permanent sticker corresponding their level of achievement. Homes achieving the Dark Green Certification have the option to receive a locally made, sustainably harvested wood plaque. To pick up your sign, please come to the Public Works office Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
During the competition, the City of Takoma Park offered help to homeowners by providing free energy coaching, audit reviews, second opinions and rebates for energy efficiency home improvements. The City will continue to offer rebates and energy coaching assistance through next year.
Your efforts to save energy at home are helping the City compete against 50 other communities for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. The $5 million prize will be awarded to the community with the greatest reductions in residential and municipal energy use, using replicable and innovative programs. Takoma Park’s Neighborhood Energy Challenge was a huge success in helping the City’s effort.
Outstanding challenge participants
The Neighborhood Energy Challenge would not have been possible without all of the enthusiastic support and hard work by the team captains, volunteers, and residents who opened up their homes for meetings, posted on their neighborhood listservs, and recruited participants. While there were too many wonderful advocates to count, four residents stood out.
Outstanding Team Captain, Lori Hill: Lori held many meetings during the challenge, encouraging neighborhoods to attend, helping with certification applications and answering questions. Lori tirelessly promoted the competition.
Outstanding Supporter, Cindy Dyballa: Cindy championed the neighborhood energy challenge from before its launch, encouraging staff and council. She helped organize her neighborhood, which turned into a true powerhouse of a team. She also helped connect many of the impressive environmentalists and community activists that live in Takoma Park to the challenge.
Outstanding Example, Kate Stewart: As a City Council member and now Mayor, Kate’s excitement helped staff gain the support needed to bring the competition to life. Kate invited TV cameras into her home to film her energy audit, which CityTV broadcast, enabling residents to learn more about the value of energy audits, find out about the challenge, and see ways to make energy improvements to their homes.
Ward Prize – Ward 2, Tim Male, City Council Member: Tim was a vocal supporter of the Neighborhood Energy Challenge. He quickly signed up and had an energy audit and got into the competitive spirit. Tim is a champion for environmental action in Takoma Park, and it is no surprise that with his leadership and encouragement, Ward 2 had the most certifications of any Ward in the City.
The Green Home Certification program is an evergreen program. Anyone who would like to get Green Home Certified for Energy Efficiency may do so, even though the challenge has ended. Residents can also continue working towards and earn their Dark Green Certification. Future Green Home Certification themes may include backyard habitat and lawn care, zero waste and more. The next Green Home Certification category will be announced in early 2017. To apply for a Green Home Certification visit takomaparkmd.gov/government/sustainability.
If you were on one of the winning teams and have an idea for how your team should use the prize money, contact your team leader or the sustainability manager at email@example.com.
This article appeared in the June 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.