FAQs


We have compiled extensive information for communities interested in learning more about participation in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. Please take time to review the competition rules and read the Frequently Asked Questions below. If you require additional information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


A. WHY ENERGY EFFICIENCY

1. Why did you choose to develop a prize competition to address the issue of energy efficiency?

Throughout history, highly visible prize competitions have demonstrated their capacity to spur innovative approaches to some of the most difficult challenges faced by mankind. Despite the many innovative efficiency measures now in place across the country – including incentives and tax breaks – the United States still wastes more than half of all energy produced. It’s clear that we need a new approach to address this challenge, and the Georgetown University Energy Prize is positioned to act as the catalyst for the long-term, positive change we need.

2. Most people would agree that energy efficiency is an important issue and one worth talking about. Why should communities be inspired to enter the competition?

When it comes to energy efficiency, everyone wins. Consumers save money, municipal governments reduce their expenses, and an entire community becomes more energy independent and environmentally sustainable. The Georgetown University Energy Prize provides a unique platform that will bring together residents, government leaders and utilities in competing communities, united in the goal of improving their energy efficiency. Entering the competition will give communities access to financial opportunities (see “Reasons for Competing” below), educational and technical resources creating far-reaching benefits that will last beyond the life of the competition.

In June 2013, at Georgetown University, President Obama talked about reducing the nation’s overall carbon emissions as a way to fight climate change. Why not develop a prize for reducing carbon emissions?

Energy efficiency is the cleanest source of energy we have available. There is enormous potential for saving significant amounts of energy in communities across the U.S. The Georgetown University Energy Prize is designed to tap into this zero carbon energy source while at the same time saving individuals, business and governments millions of dollars a year. Throughout the competition, resources will be made available on the “Resources for Competitors” tab of this website, covering a range of topics including carbon, smart energy choices, and the important links between smart energy policy and energy efficiency.

According to a July 2009 McKinsey report, energy efficiency holds enormous potential in contributing to the reduction in overall carbon missions and “is an important energy resource that can help meet future energy needs while the nation concurrently develops new no- and low-carbon energy sources.” The Georgetown University Energy Prize aims to help address climate change by focusing on energy efficiency which also helps reduce carbon emissions.

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B. REASONS FOR COMPETING

1. Are there estimated costs on what it will take for our community to win the competition?

There are certainly some initial costs associated with implementing energy efficiency plans and they will vary depending on what a community may already have in place. The Georgetown University Energy Prize team will provide support for participating communities throughout the competition through a wide range of public resources and partners. As with any long-term investment, however, any up-front costs will be met with far greater rewards in the end, with one of the most tangible benefits being a more sustainable and financially sound community.

2. Are there any rewards for finalist communities that aren’t selected as the Prize winner?

A community doesn’t have to finish first in the competition to “win”. Every competing community that demonstrates savings over previous years will be able to pass through a significant savings to their residents via energy bills for individual households—giving residents more disposable income, and allowing local governments to provide more money for direct services to residents. Moreover, the long-term benefits of energy efficiency include both financial and environmental benefits for future generations.

Throughout the Prize, competing communities will have access to exclusive resources that will help them develop and implement their energy efficiency plan, including: concrete financial and technical assistance, case studies, and customizable tips for communities. Competitors will also have the opportunity throughout the life of the Prize to come together with other city managers and community leaders in Washington, D.C. to share ideas and best practices with one another, and to learn from some of the top minds in the nation’s capital.

While only one community will win the prize, the Georgetown University Energy Prize will recognize additional noteworthy communities for their achievements in energy efficiency and innovative approaches to addressing this challenge. If additional funding is available, we may award monetary prizes to second and third place communities to help them continue to advance their energy efficiency efforts.

3. How will this competition positively impact the communities that choose to participate?

In addition to the clear environmental benefits associated with becoming more energy efficient, communities that reduce their energy consumption ultimately reap substantial financial benefits as well including saving as much as $200 per year for the average household when implementing energy saving measures. Overall, communities can save millions of dollars per year. One competing community estimates that they will save millions of dollars per year by implementing their energy efficiency plan. Please also visit the Resources for Competitors tab for information on what communities and utilities around the country are already doing about energy efficiency and home energy saving tips and resources.

4. Beyond a rigorous competition, perhaps winning the competition and the prize and a boost to community pride, what other benefits might we see if we choose to compete?

All competing communities will have access to financial opportunities and educational and technical resources including: one-on-one technical assistance, annual workshops, case studies showcasing energy efficiency successes in other communities, tips for household energy conservation, opportunities to apply for seed grants, and direct engagement with federal policymakers in Washington, D.C.

5. I know this is a national competition, but I live in a community of just 25,000 people in the middle of America. What publicity can we hope to get for our efforts by entering?

In addition to the financial support and educational and technical resources offered by the Prize, competing communities will receive significant communications support in promoting their progress updates and success stories to local and national media. In doing so, community leaders will gain greater national visibility for their participation in the competition, thereby raising their city’s profile with the potential to encourage other municipalities to take steps towards increased energy efficiency.

 

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C. ELIGIBILITY

1. Who is eligible to participate in the competition?

During 2014, any U.S. municipality with a population between 5,000 and 250,000 was eligible to apply to compete in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. This means that 8,892 communities, accounting for 65% of the U.S. population (more than 200 million people) can participate. While we regret that not all communities are eligible to participate, we feel the criteria we have in place is necessary for a robust and productive competition.

2. What is the rationale behind allowing only communities with a population range of 5,000 to 250,000 to enter in the competition?

In order to offer a level playing field, we gave careful consideration to community population sizes. Those with a population below 5,000 would be too small and over 250,000 would be too large. Smaller communities would have an unfair advantage in measuring their energy savings, something far easier to do in smaller than larger communities. Larger cities above the 250,000 population mark would have access to more resources and municipal services that smaller communities would not.

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D. COMMUNITY ADVANTAGE

1. Do communities who use more renewable energy than non-renewable energy get preferential treatment?

No. The Georgetown University Energy Prize is focused on a single goal – energy efficiency. We do not attempt to value one source of energy over another, and deliberately choose to avoid issues that can be divisive and can detract from the overarching goal of the Prize.

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E. COMPETITION DETAILS

1. How is the winning community selected?

A judging committee will evaluate participating communities on a specific set of weighted objective and subjective criteria. This will take into account a community’s ability to develop and implement a plan that is innovative, replicable, and scalable– one that offers continual adjustments to their per capita energy consumption from local natural gas and electric utilities.

Please see the About the Prize page for more details about how communities will be evaluated in the final judging phase.

2. Why is the measurement of energy consumption restricted to just residential and municipal consumption of electricity and gas?

The Georgetown University Energy Prize’s focus is on improving energy efficiency at the community level, which requires the cooperation of not just community residents, but also of their municipal leaders. While we recognize that electricity and gas do not account for all residential and municipal energy use, these are the only two energy sources that are easily measurable – a factor that is essential to the Prize design.

In order to keep the playing field relatively level, and to keep measurement manageable, we chose to exclude a number of areas from the competition – including commercial, industrial, and transportation energy consumption.

4. What happens if the municipality or community leadership changes during the competition?

We understand that leadership changes may change occur during the competition and communities will need to manage those changes while still actively competing for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, just as they would for other ongoing programs.

5. Are there tangible examples or case studies of what other communities have done that would be in line with the kind of innovation that you’re hoping to see in your winners?

We recommend visiting the website of one of our collaborators, the National League of Cities, for the Sustainable Cities Initiative for more information on cities across the country that are engaging in successful and inspiring sustainability efforts.

6. Are there restrictions to how the prize can be used?

The prize must be used for energy efficiency programs that reward the community as a whole and provide for the long-term implementation of those plans.

7. How will our success be measured throughout the life of the competition?

Please see the “Rules and Timeline” page for more details on what is required at each stage of the competition beginning with the Letter of Intent all the way through the final judging phase.

At each stage of the competition, communities will need to submit well-prepared materials that show where and how they are engaging with their local government and utilities, describe the nature of their energy-saving programs, etc.

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F. INVOLVEMENT OF LOCAL/STATE/FEDERAL GOVERNMENT & UTILITIES

1. Why is the role of local utilities so important in this competition?

According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, currently 28 states have performance incentives in place for natural gas utilities, electric utilities or both, and 25 states allow for the decoupling of natural gas utilities, electric utilities, or both. The Georgetown University Energy Prize is challenging communities all across the country to come up with innovative mechanisms that reward everyone—utilities and customers alike.

It is imperative that utilities are involved in achieving greater energy efficiency across the country. Not only do utilities provide the data needed to measure energy consumption, but customer satisfaction is higher when utilities are involved in such efforts and provide these services to their customer base. At the community level, utilities are already engaged in many ways and this competition offers the opportunity to deepen that engagement and possibly enable even greater results than if a community didn’t compete at all.

2. With the Georgetown University Energy Prize team based in D.C., how will your proximity to decision makers on Capitol Hill and federal agencies assist me and my community through the process?

Many of our country’s experts on energy policy and energy savings programs are located here in the nation’s capital, and agencies such as the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have agreed to partner with us in some capacity. This close proximity means that the Georgetown University Energy Prize offers unique opportunities for city managers and community leaders to come together in Washington, share ideas and best practices with one another, and learn from some of the top minds located here.

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