With 26 billion — that’s right, with a B — thermal units of energy saved, Oberlin has advanced to the final round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition.
The city has also reduced its carbon emissions by 1,701 metric tons — that’s about the same weight as 20 space shuttles, 16 blue whales, or 250 elephants.
Oberlin is among 10 cities and counties in the finals, seeking a $5 million grand prize. It ranks among the highest performers in the group.
The city joined the multi-year competition in April 2014. In December, a panel of judges representing academia and industry will gauge how finalists are piloting creative ways to be more energy-efficient.
“Our 10 finalists have achieved impressive energy savings and reduced municipal and household energy budgets,” said Uwe Brandes, faculty director of the master’s program in urban and regional planning at Georgetown. “They serve as models for other communities across our country and have offered innovative energy-saving strategies that can be replicated and scaled.”
Since 2014, 50 cities and counties across the U.S. have worked to reduce their energy consumption. At the end of 2016, these communities had collectively saved 11.5 trillion BTUs of energy, reducing their carbon emissions by an estimated 2.76 million metric tons — the equivalent of taking one car off the road for every 30 minutes of the competition — and saving nearly $100 million from municipal and household energy budgets.
Also in the finals are Bellevue, Wash.; Bellingham, Wash.; Berkeley, Calif.; Chula Vista, Calif.; Fargo, N.D.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Montpelier, Vt.; Takoma Park, Md.; and Walla Walla, Wash.
The winning community will be recognized in December. The $5 million prize will finance an “energy efficiency dream project” as well as workshops and education opportunities.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the city of Oberlin, as well as the other locations involved in the competition,” said Oberlin city manager Rob Hillard. “Regardless of the outcomes, being a part of these final rounds is wonderful.”