For the month of January, three towns in Fairfield County are having a little friendly competition to see which one is the most energy conscious. According to an article dated January 2nd in The Hour, Westport, Wilton, and Weston have taken up the “Green Cup Challenge” initiated by the Wilton Energy Commission and sponsored by Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P). The point of the competition, which will end on January 31st, is to raise awareness of exactly how environmentally conscious their communities are.
The Wilton Energy Commission hosted an open meeting looking to kick start this initiative and a Wilton high school student came to the rescue. Shwetha Rahguraman along with fellow student Kathryn Saphire “took the bull by the horns” and got the ball rolling.
An 11-question survey was formed and sent out to homes and businesses. A few of the questions from the survey, which is also available online, were “Do you own vehicles that get over 30mpg?” and “Do more than a quarter of the lights in your household use compact fluorescent bulbs?”
Points are awarded to how these questions are answered. CL&P will judge the final responses and award a “green” cup to the winning town. As of today, there are 228 participants signed up to take part in the competition.
Mitchell Reichgut, a member of the energy commission, said it’s not about winning the cup. “All of us who are involved in it,” Reichgut was quoted in The Hour as saying, “really feel like it’s a really important project and an important issue.”
Like the Shwetha Rahguraman, other students in Connecticut have a competitive streak. In October, WFSB Channel 3 reported students at UConn challenging each other to a competition to reduce the amount of energy they use. In their “Eco-Madness” competition, students turned off lights and cut their shower time. The winning team had cut their energy use by 28%.
“I’m actually surprised that people are continuing to turn off the lights,” said Dana Lovallo, an eco-captain for her dorm. “I think it’s now habit, which is nice.”
Other areas of the country have that competitive spirit, too. In September, Saratoga and Los Gatos, both in California, were challenged to a “duel” by Akeena Solar Company, a solar power installer located in Los Gatos. In an article in The Mercury News, Los Gatos Mayor Barbara Spector said, “It’s a marvelous way to educate, entertain, and benefit our environment. I think contests are great motivators.”
Akeena is offering $1,000 discount as incentive for residents to purchase their panels and the first city to have installed 150 kilowatts by December 31, 2008, would get a 10 kilowatt solar panel installed in one of the winning town’s municipal building of their choice.
In Virginia, the Virginia Municipal League (VML) has implemented the “Go Green Virginia” campaign. It is designed to promote environmental practices, mainly focused on reducing carbon emissions, through friendly competition between towns and cities.
But, it’s not just here in the U.S. Communities across the globe are hoping to promote environmental awareness. The European Commission has launched its “European Green Capital Award” to be presented each year to the city that has the most environmentally friendly urban living. And, the United Nations Environmental Programme in South Africa focuses on waste management in their “Cleanest Town Competition”.
Whether it’s turning off the lights, driving your car less, or taking a shorter shower, more communities are looking to make a serious change in their environment. So, why not be a good sport and challenge each other to a friendly competition?