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Sustainable Claremont blooms with renewed efforts this spring

Spring is here and while the buds in the City of Trees begin to blossom Sustainable Claremont went into full bloom as they opened the doors to their new Sustainability Resource Center.

With Sustainable Claremont Chair Freeman Allen at the helm, the ribbon cutting ceremony drew nearly 100 supporters and city officials to the Lenz Horticulture Building at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden on March 11 to welcome the community’s newest asset.

The opening comes just in time as the city begins to initiate its largest sustainability effort yet with the launch of the Claremont Energy Challenge on Thursday, March 26 at Rose Hills Theater at Pomona College. The event will feature guest speakers from the Department of Energy, the Georgetown University Energy Prize, Claremont City Council, and fellow students who will discuss the importance of energy efficiency and what resources are available to reach that achievement.

The creation of the Claremont Energy Challenge (CEC) is a direct result of the city’s acceptance into the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a competition with a $5 million prize that challenges small to medium-size towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase energy efficiency.

As the only city accepted as a semifinalist within Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Orange counties, Claremont will go up against 50 other cities nationwide to save the most energy in homes, municipal buildings and K-12 schools over the next two years while simultaneously striving to create the most innovative and replicable initiatives that will provide leadership in energy efficiency to other cities throughout the country.

In partnership with the city and Sustainable Claremont, CHERP will lead the citywide initiative with the goal of educating and involving all 13,000 households in the multiple benefits of energy efficiency by implementing conservation measures beginning with simple things like behavioral changes and LED light bulbs to whole-building energy retrofits.

“Our Claremont Energy Challenge goal is to educate and involve every sector and demographic within our community in the many benefits of energy efficiency and connect residents with rebates, financing, grants and other available resources,” said Devon Hartman, Executive Director of CHERP and The Claremont Energy Challenge.

CHERP and Sustainable Claremont are currently partnering with local community organizations in order to reach every neighborhood and demographic in the city for their participation. The Claremont Chamber of Commerce, the American Institute of Architects, The Energy Network, the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Residential Network, the Interfaith Sustainability Council, Pilgrim Place, the League of Women Voters, Southern California Edison, and The Gas Company – to mention just a few organizations - are all on board to help Claremont win the prize.

“We’ve got 40 community organizations signed up so far,” Mr. Hartman told the COURIER. “The response has been incredible.”

Mr. Hartman is also pleased with the number of people who have come forward to participate on the Claremont Energy Challenge’s Board of Directors and Board of Advisors.

“We’ve got about 70 people that will help guide this project over the next two years,” he says, adding, “But we’re always looking for more people who want to get involved. There’s plenty of room.”

In addition, CHERP and Sustainable Claremont are working with 100 student interns from all seven Claremont Colleges, several institutes and the Claremont Unified School District to increase student involvement.

With a choice of several committees including participatory education, social media, PR/Marketing, events, GIS, best practices and research, grant writing, graphics, multimedia education and app design, students are able to craft their internship based on their interests and skills.

Since the Claremont Energy Challenge will take place over the next 24 months, internships will be available in the summer as well as the fall. Students interested in getting involved should contact Fiona Bare at fbare17@cmc.edu or Jenna Perelman at jennaperelman@gmail.com.

The GUEP is comprised of four stages that began in April 2014 with the application process and will conclude in June 2017 with the winning community receiving a projected $5 million prize to be spent on energy-efficiency programs that reward the community as a whole. Finalists will be selected based primarily on energy-saving performance from January 2015 through December 2016, and will be invited to submit final reports covering relevant aspects of the community’s plan, performance and future prospects.

The judging panel will score the final reports in specific, weighted categories and select the winners based on a combination of these scores. The highest-ranking community will be awarded first place. Second and third place will also be awarded; these additional winners will receive special recognition and additional benefits, which may include cash purses.

“What we hope to do is award the organizations and individuals who participate the most in the Claremont Energy Challenge,” explains Mr. Hartman. “We would distribute the purse evenly among those participants.”

For information, contact either Sustainable Claremont Coordinator Alexis Reyes at coordinator@sustainableclaremont.org or Devon Hartman, Executive Director of CHERP and The Claremont Energy Challenge at devon@cherp.net.

The Claremont Energy Challenge launch event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 26 at the Rose Hills Theater, Smith Campus Center at Pomona College located at 170 E. Sixth St..

For updates about the Claremont Energy Challenge, follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/claremontenergychallenge), Twitter (@CmontEnergy) and USTREAM (www.ustream.tv/channel/claremont-energy-challenge—-cherp). To learn more about the Georgetown Energy Prize, visit www.guep.org.

—Angela Bailey

news@claremont-courier.com