Bellingham has just been awarded an EPA grant as a Climate Showcase Community (CSC). The goal of the grant is to assist communities establish and implement climate change initiatives that will help reduce carbon emissions. 25 awards where given to 450 applicants. Bellingham will use the grant funds to provide outreach and education on the Community Energy Challenge project, a collaboration with Sustainable Connections, Opportunity Council, Puget Sound Energy and RE Sources for Sustainable Communities.
Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said "The Community Energy Challenge will demonstrate a comprehensive approach to saving energy that combines community outreach, â€˜one-stop shop' weatherization assistance for homes and businesses, and customer and classroom education," The Challenge will creat living wage 'green collar' jobs and result in a significant and measurable reduction in energy use and carbon emissions from businesses, institutional buildings and homes across the entire county. It is estimated that more than 2,000 local homeowners and business owners will benefit from the Challenge.
â€œThe City will use the grant funds to complete the education and outreach element of the Challenge by collaborating with 3 key partners:
- Sustainable Connections (SC) is a non-profit membership organization of nearly 650 Northwest Washington business and community leaders working to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices. SC will be a sub-awardee and will lead development and implementation of the outreach plan.
- RE Sources for Sustainable Communities is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable communities through recycling, education, advocacy and conservation of natural resources. RE Sources will be a sub-awardee and will take the lead on promoting the Challenge outreach efforts through school districts, implementing the proven successful Cool School Challenge program. The Cool School Challenge will engage students, teachers and administrators in school-wide initiatives to save energy and reduce carbon pollution. Participants will also have the opportunity to bring information and practices home to their families.
- Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is a national leader in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and supports the Community Energy Challenge as part of the utility's commitment to the region's environmental and economic sustainability. As a sponsor of the Challenge and as a technical resource for Sustainable Connections and the Building Performance Center, the utility offers expertise and knowledge in energy efficiency that is helping the Challenge in meeting its goals for Whatcom County. PSE's energy efficiency and education programs involved in this challenge are proven to help customers save energy and protect the environment. â€œ
Approximately 1,800 homes and 150 commercial buildings will improve their energy efficiency during the 3 years of the Challenge as well as additional conservation measures that will be taken in public schools and other key buildings. The Challenge will result in a carbon emissions reduction equivalent to the removing 1,378 passenger cars from the road for one year.
Images of barometers will be displayed on large banners around town and widely published in print media to track collective progress towards the goal of "making Bellingham and Whatcom County a nationally recognized leader in energy efficiency."
Whatcom County residents will have a variety of opportunities at home, at work and at school to take up the Challenge, save energy and money and help the community lead the nation towards practical solutions.