National race is on to save energy | ParkRecord.com

National race is on to save energy

Summit County has been selected as a semifinalist to compete in a national energy-saving competition, Georgetown University announced on Tuesday.

In partnering with Park City and the local municipalities, Summit County will be vying for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize. The county will join 50 communities nationwide, including Kearns Township, Utah, to reduce their energy consumption during the next two years.

"We are really excited and we feel honored to be included in such a prestigious group of communities," said Summit Community Power Work Project Manager Mary Christa Smith. "We are already moving forward in our efforts and we are really delighted and happy to be included this far into the competition.

"The community plan has to be replicable nationwide," Smith said. "And I know that if we can make it work here, it can be applied everywhere because we do represent America, to a great degree."

The competition, which began Jan. 1, measures residential and municipal consumption of electricity and natural gas. The local non-profit Summit Community Power Works (SCPW), outlined and submitted the county’s plans in partnering with local utility companies and entities, including the school districts and municipalities to reduce consumption.

SCPW is leading with a Light Emitting Diode (LED) program focused on light efficiency and formally launched the project on Jan. 15. As part of the "challenge," as SCPW is calling it, residents are encouraged to switch from incandescent to LED bulbs.

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SCPW is also partnering with the school districts to bring energy education into the classrooms by creating curriculum for local schools, including an LED action plan, in conjunction with the course standards for teachers.

"Georgetown University was really adamant about bringing education into the schools," said Chris Cherniak, a local environmental engineer who sits on the SCPW board. "It was a really important component for the generations to follow to kind of embrace energy efficiency so it just becomes a natural thing."

Park City High School, through its Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) program, will continue to develop projects specific to energy consumption, such as a light audit, to serve as a model for other schools in both the South and North Summit school districts.

"The kids have become the catalyst to get participation," Charlie Matthews, PCHS physics teacher and SCPW board member, said. "Kids are the ones that motivate the change in behavior. We have something unique here, specifically with PCCAPS, where we can get teenagers, who are a particularly harder group, and they can reach down to the elementary school kids if possible.

"Change oftentimes begins with the kids," he said.

SCPW plans to continue reaching out to the utility companies, schools and municipalities during the competition, through various initiatives.

"We have prepared a plan to engage the entities during the two-year period to reduce energy usage, to educate them and get them to participate," Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Yoder said. "So this is just our first initiative and more will be revealed.

"We’re excited we’re in and we’re in it to win," Yoder added "We think we have a good chance, we have a great plan and a great shot at winning."

To sign up to participate in the competition visit http://scpw.org/ . For more information about the Georgetown Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit http://www.guep.org . SCPW also has a Facebook page.

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