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Green Ribbon Commission organizes competition to reduce carbon emissions on Mercer Island

The Green Ribbon Commission Home Committee is organizing an Islandwide competition to reduce home and transportation carbon emissions. The committee is asking Island residents to compare their energy usage to the rest of the community for one year, starting May 1. Along the way, Islanders will learn how to implement ways to reduce their energy usage.

The city and school district are upping the ante by competing for the lowest carbon emissions. The party with the greatest percentage of carbon emission reduction as of May 1, 2011, wins.

Contestants will use the EcoShift energy tracking Web site and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) online data to measure their energy levels and transportation emissions. For the home energy measurements, PSE information will be collected for the entire household. For transportation measurements, participants can choose to measure their individual transportation patterns or those of the entire household. The previous year’s data for transportation will come from service records and odometer readings.

According to the Green Ribbon Commission, the goal of this contest is to create “a fun atmosphere of education and competition,” not to single out individuals. Group average data (for home and for transportation) will be released. Individual data, however, will be treated as confidential.

Each participant will be provided with a Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor ($19.99), which is paid for by the EECBG grant that the city received for the project. Kill-A-Watt monitors will be city property and can be checked out by citizens following the Energy Challenge. The EcoShift Web site will be used for footprint tracking.

Participants will each be provided with a helper or “concierge” from the Green Ribbon Commission to provide assistance in data collection and energy usage reduction.

Each quarter, participants will be briefly interviewed to see if they have seen a reduction in their energy bill compared to the prior year. They will be asked what they’ve learned, what they’ve done to reduce energy, and what their challenges have been.

The city hopes to publish many of these interviews on its Web site, in the MI Weekly quarterly newsletter. The winner of the competition will receive a prize, yet to be announced.

For more information on the Green Ribbon Commission, visit: www.mercergov.org.

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