This post first appeared on Sustainable Brands on February 2, 2016.
A competition that began in October, the CoolCalifornia Challenge, is motivating Californians in 22 participating cities to reduce their water and energy consumption. The cities are competing for a share of $150,000 to put towards local sustainability projects and the coveted title of “Coolest City in California,” and Mayors and city officials are joining in the fun by releasing rallying call videos to encourage their constituents to take part.
“The CoolCalifornia Challenge is a fun way for cities and residents to band together and see their sustainability efforts rewarded in a tangible way,” Pamela Wellner, Manager, Climate Change Programs for Energy Upgrade California, explained.
Residents can sign up on the Challenge website, log their information, and earn points for their city through March 30, 2016. All of the participating cities will receive a portion of the $150,000 prize money based on the percentage of points they earn. During Earth Week, on April 21, the winning “Coolest California City” will be announced, along with two runner-up “Cool California Cities.”
Claremont is currently at the top of the leaderboard, ahead of Long Beach in second place and Burlingame in third place. In the previous Challenge, Riverside was the winner, followed by Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga. Claremont’s Mayor Corey Calaycay seems particularly determined to ensure his city of “trees and PhDs” gets the most cash this year.
So far, 12 mayors and city officials have released videos promoting the competition. Some cite reasons they are the coolest city – such as Martinez’s bocce ball prowess and the over 6,000 low-flow toilets in Redwood City – while others offer creative ways to lower water and energy consumption – such as sleeping more or using the water left over from boiling artichokes in the place of club soda for alcoholic beverages. The most entertaining suggestions, though, come from Burlingame Mayor Terry Nagel, who offers suggestions for themed days of the week including “Tube Top Tuesdays” and “No Flush Fridays,” and Larkspur Vice Mayor Kevin Haroff, who offers to help out his citizens directly.
“These mayors have taken the competition to the next level by infusing some humor and creativity into their calls to action. As we kick off a New Year, we hope these videos inspire residents to resolve to cut carbon emissions,” Wellner said.
San Mateo Mayor Joe Goethals jokingly admits that the competition is a way to “stay in tune with today’s Millennials,” and that the “Coolest California City,” is a good slogan. In contrast, Fairfax Council Member Barbara Coler has the least enthusiastic delivery, even as she pleads, “Fairfax, this title belongs to us.”
Energy Upgrade California, a state initiative, runs the Challenge in partnership with the CoolCalifornia.org program at the California Air Resources Board and the CoolClimate Network at the University of California, Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory.
13 of the participating cities are from the Bay Area, where a similar initiative is trying to engage fans to reduce their impact. The San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee recently launched a “Play Your Part” campaign to help meet their goal of delivering Super Bowl 50 as a “Net Positive” event.