Oberlin among elite communities across the nation leading the way on energy efficiency

Posted by Sharon Pearson
Sharon Pearson
Sharon Pearson is the Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project and liaison to
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on January 15, 2015 in Energy Matters

GUEP Semifinalst MapOberlin, Ohio – January 14, 2015 – Today, Oberlin officially advances to the Semifinal round of the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition that is challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use. At a press event in Washington, D.C. today, Oberlin was announced as one of the 50 communities who are leading the way on energy efficiency.

“Oberlin has made a commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions below zero by the year 2050 and energy efficiency is a huge part of that equation. Right now, the average Oberlin home is losing an estimated $450-500 per year in missed energy savings at today’s energy prices. We have access to efficiency programs that will, in most cases, nearly triple a homeowner’s investment. Some income-qualified programs pay for all the work. Collectively, over the course of the two-year competition, the status quo in Oberlin will lose us nearly $8 million. So while winning the $5 million prize purse will help these efforts, we have an opportunity to “win” a far greater amount of money in the process. And those savings will continue after the competition ends.” – Sean Hayes, The Oberlin Project

“Oberlin, as well as mayors and executives across the county, have told us that this Prize gives them the momentum to accelerate their energy efficiency efforts,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Founder and Executive Director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize. Slakey continued, “these Semifinalist communities are leading the way for other small- and medium-size cities and counties to secure their energy efficient future.”

"Our experience with POWER was very positive, from start to finish! The process was very easy to navigate and there were minimal out-of-pocket costs. We are grateful our home is now more energy efficient and are already seeing some of the benefits in our monthly energy bills."  - Melissa Thompson, Oberlin Resident

Oberlin joins 1 other community from Ohio [Athens, Ohio] in this friendly competition to improve energy efficiency for all.

“The competition looks truly like America,” said Dr. Slakey, “not only do these communities come from across the map, they come form across the political spectrum, represent all socioeconomic strata, and include demographically diverse populations.  Some are paying the highest prices for energy, some have the ambition to be carbon net-zero, but all communities share the goal of transforming America's energy future.”

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit www.guep.org, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/guenergyprize).

For more information about Oberlin’s efforts and ways you can get involved, please visit www.oberlinproject.org or contact Sharon Pearson, Program Coordinator of the Oberlin Project at 440-775-6473.

About Oberlin

Oberlin, Ohio, population 8,286, not far from the shore of Lake Erie and a half-hour from Cleveland, has it all - the quiet air of a small town combined with the art, music, culture and history of a big city. Often called the "most cosmopolitan small town in America" and “the town that started the Civil War,” the community was founded in 1833 - at the same time as Oberlin College, one of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges. As an institution of higher learning, the College was a pioneer in the joint education of the sexes, being the first to accept women and students of color as a matter of policy.

The community has played a key role in many of the major reform movements-from abolition and the Underground Railroad to temperance, woman suffrage and civil rights. In 1961, Oberlin was the first city in the State of Ohio to pass a fair housing law and third in the nation behind Pittsburgh and New

York City. Quality of life issues such as housing, equal opportunity, the environment,

and historic preservation all have strong advocates and are as prevalent today as in the past.

Oberlin citizens represent many cultures and interests, and its strength and appeal lie in this richness of diversity. Even though the average median income is $47,334, nearly 24% of the population is at or below the poverty level and about 45% of school children are on the free or reduced lunch program. Oberlin boasts a vibrant downtown shopping district, tree-lined streets, unique and popular restaurants, and is active in preserving its history.                                                                         

About Georgetown University Energy Prize

The $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize challenges small- to medium-size towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. To compete for the Prize, local governments, residents, utilities, and others will need to work together to demonstrate success in sustainably reducing energy consumption over a two-year period. For more information, visit http://www.guep.org">www.guep.org.

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Sharon Pearson is the Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project and liaison to the Transportation Working Group. Sharon will complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Green and Sustainable Enterprise Management by the end of 2013. She was born and raised in Oberlin and worked for Oberlin City Hall for 25 years. Currently she and her fiancé are moving back to Oberlin so they can take advantage of the various low-carbon transportation methods available including walking, biking, car-sharing, ridesharing while actively being involved in the Oberlin community.


Paula Goldsmid January 17, 2015

How to choose between Oberlin -- not only my alma mater but also town of residence for 7 years at another stage of life-- and Claremont, CA where I've lived for more than 30 years. I guess it's both!

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