The Claremont energy challenge

by Devon Hartman

It’s official—Claremont has been accepted into the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition (GUEP.org) for the opportunity to win a $5 million prize! Having successfully completed a rigorous application process, Claremont (the only city accepted within Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Orange counties) will compete against 50 other cities nationwide to save the most energy.

The goal is to reduce energy use on homes, municipal buildings and K-12 schools over the next two years and, at the same time, create the most innovative and replicable initiatives that will provide leadership in energy-efficiency to other cities throughout the country. In a strategic partnership with Sustainable Claremont and the city of Claremont, our Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project (CHERP) will lead an all-inclusive, city-wide effort—The Claremont Energy Challenge—to educate and involve all of our 13,000 households in the multiple benefits of energy-efficiency, using every energy-efficient measure from simple things like behavioral changes and LED lightbulbs to major retrofits. We will connect residents to resources, rebates, financing and grants to make energy retrofitting even more affordable, easy and fun.

Recognizing the strategic importance of energy-efficiency to our local and regional economies, Claremont adopted ambitious energy reduction goals in its Sustainable City Plan, providing early regional leadership and garnering several awards to date in this economically and environmentally important initiative.

With 80 percent of energy used in our city being consumed by the residential sector, CHERP’s strategy is to focus on educating and involving residential building owners in the available energy retrofitting methods, resources and benefits. Knowing many of  those homeowners also own businesses and factories and work in office buildings where the same methods and principles apply, the benefits will be two-fold.

CHERP’s successes to date in Claremont were in part responsible for Claremont’s inclusion in the competition. They have already demonstrated an impressive array of benefits to the city including millions of dollars of energy savings for over 250 households as well as a dramatic increase in comfort, indoor air-quality, property values and local jobs.

CHERP and Sustainable Claremont are currently partnering with more than 50 local community organizations in order to reach every neighborhood and demographic in the city with this opportunity. We are working with student interns at all seven Claremont Colleges, several institutes and the Claremont Unified School District to foster a true “Town and Gown” collaboration, placing students at the center of this educational opportunity.

At the Draper Center, we have created CHERP Unity, an initiative focused on environmental justice issues that will make sure all ages, races, demographics and income levels are included and alerted to available resources. The Claremont Chamber of Commerce, the American Institute of Architects, The Energy Network, the DOE Better Buildings Residential Energy Network, local real estate brokers, the Claremont COURIER, the Interfaith Sustainability Council, Pilgrim Place and the League of Women Voters—to mention just a few organizations—are all on board to help Claremont win this prize.

We need your help. We are currently forming our board of directors and board of advisors to help guide this project over the next two years. If you or your organization would like to participate, or if you have questions, contact either Alexis Reyes, coordinator at Sustainable Claremont, by email at coordinator@sustainableclaremont.org or Devon Hartman, executive director of CHERP and The Claremont Energy Challenge at Devon@CHERP.net.

 

Demystifying Sustainability is a project of Sustainable Claremont (sustainableclaremont.org). Follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/sustainableclaremont and on Twitter at #Green Claremont, and consider becoming a member.

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