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newsclips -- Three cities win awards for efforts by households to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Posted: 27 Jun 2013 12:20:24

---------- Three cities win awards for efforts by households to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Davis, Chula Vista, Tracy winners in first-ever CoolCalifornia
Challenge to reduce cities’ carbon footprints

Release #:13-38

ARB PIO: (916) 322-2990

Melanie Turner

Antonio Leaks

Three cities were honored today at an award ceremony before the
California Air Resources Board, wrapping up a year-long
CoolCalifornia Challenge in which thousands of households in
cities across the state competed for the biggest citywide carbon
footprint reduction.

Known for its longtime commitment to environmental
sustainability, the city of Davis was crowned the state’s
“Coolest California City” by the Air Resources Board out of eight
cities that began the competition.  Chula Vista and Tracy, which
came in second and third respectively, were named “Cool
California Cities.”  All eight participating cities used novel
and creative approaches to engage households to take simple
everyday actions to reduce their carbon footprint, and accurately
measure the combined greenhouse gas reductions for each

ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols presented the mayors or
representatives of all three finalist cities with a special award
at the board meeting. 
“Engaging households and civic groups is an essential part of the
state’s ability to achieve the long-term climate goals of
reducing greenhouse gas emissions and moving us away from our
dependence on fossil fuels,” said Nichols. “The CoolCalifornia
Challenge helps us learn how cities can motivate individuals and
households to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprint, and do
it in a way that can be entertaining, fun and fulfilling.”

In all, the ARB-sponsored CoolCalifornia Challenge enrolled close
to 3,000 participants in the cities of Davis, Chula Vista, Tracy,
Sacramento, San Jose, Citrus Heights, Pleasanton and Pittsburg.
Chula Vista had the most people involved, with nearly 700
households participating.

Together, the 1,000 most engaged households used 50 percent less
energy than similar households and cut their energy use another 7
percent during the competition, equivalent to more than 220
metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. 
Like all of the cities participating in the first such year-long
challenge, Davis successfully engaged hundreds of residents to
track and reduce their energy use and miles driven — to
collectively reduce the city’s carbon footprint. Davis has set a
goal to engage 75 percent of its households in voluntary
greenhouse gas reduction activities by 2015. Nearly 450 Davis
households signed up for the contest. The city came out on top by
earning the most points. While individuals and teams alike helped
rack up the city’s overall points, two Davis Community Church
teams, among the city’s top teams, contributed a combined 14
percent of the total points.

“Climate Change will be defeated by a constellation of individual
actions.  As the government closest to citizens, cities must play
an active role in spurring these actions.  The CoolCalifornia
Challenge brought Davis together like never before, and has set
the stage for our continuing work to have 75 percent of all
households engage in aggressive carbon reduction actions — from
efficiency, to renewables, to active and electric-drive
transportation.  In partnership with the state, Davis will reach
its goal of citywide carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Davis Mayor
Joe Krovoza.

Participants earned points for reducing their household energy
use and tailpipe emissions — by bicycling instead of driving or
hanging laundry to dry instead of using a dryer, for example.
They also earned bonus points for beating their own personal
benchmarks each month. Cities engaged households in the
competition with city-sponsored block parties, at weekly farmers’
markets and through special events like the Cool Davis festival,
which spurred ideas for reducing household greenhouse gas
emissions with information, entertainment and family activities.
A CoolCalifornia.org website, developed through a partnership of
ARB, nonprofit Next 10 and UC Berkeley, provided online tools to
support the voluntary efforts by local governments and
households. Individuals tracked their driving habits and home
energy use with easy-to-use online software developed by the
University of California, Berkeley for the site. Points earned
counted toward a city’s total, and also earned participants
raffle tickets toward local prizes.

While the winning city gains bragging rights and recognition, ARB
takes away valuable information about how to get individuals to
voluntarily make changes to curb their carbon footprints and
foster sustainability and green economic development. Because
voluntary actions are included as elements in California’s
climate plan, ARB has developed a variety of tools and resources
to support these non-regulatory efforts. 

The Challenge is part of an ARB-funded research project by the
Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab at UC Berkeley. The study
will help inform future efforts to promote and quantify carbon
footprint reductions and help establish best practices for
citizen engagement.

Challenge participants will be invited to again celebrate their
accomplishments at an event set for Sept. 5 on the west steps of
the State Capitol. Organizers plan to kick off a second
CoolCalifornia Challenge at the celebration.

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