Constellation Energy is investing an additional $450,000 in the Baltimore Energy Challenge (BEC) and City Schools Sustainability Challenge (CSSC) programs, bringing the company’s total contribution to $650,000.
For three consecutive years, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and the Baltimore Community Foundation have partnered to administer these two programs that help to advance the goals of the city of Baltimore’s Sustainability Plan.
The BEC helps city businesses and residents reduce their energy usage, and the CSSC helps schools achieve certification with the statewide Maryland Green School Awards program. It also provides resources for student-led environmental leadership projects to schools by awarding $1,000 grants.
In 2009, the Baltimore Office of Sustainability and the Baltimore Community Foundation launched BEC as a nine-month pilot program in eight Baltimore communities. The same year, Constellation Energy invested $200,000 toward the implementation of BEC.
A year later, BEC announced the energy savings results from the pilot: an average of 6.6 percent. The neighborhood of Park Heights achieved a 12.8 percent savings, the city says. As a result, 12 additional neighborhoods were added and a new model of establishing school “energy hubs” was implemented, where thousands of energy challenge pledges have been signed and free energy kits distributed.
Since 2010, participation in CSSC has grown as outreach efforts have increased and city schools have adopted a greater focus on sustainability. More than a third of all city public schools have now formed green teams and implemented environmental projects with their students through the CSSC program. John Eager Howard Elementary School in Reservoir Hill, for example, built wind turbines with $2,000 provided by BEC and CSSC.
Several other cities are also implementing energy-efficiency incentives and programs to save money on energy bills and encourage businesses to curb their usage.
In late February, Chevron Energy Solutions and the city of Livermore, Calif. announced a plan to reduce citywide energy costs and save taxpayers more than $10 million over the next 25 years, and Washington, DC mayor Vincent Gray announced a plan to build 1,000 new renewable-energy systems by 2032, among other sustainability goals.
The same month, Minneapolis, Minn. officials approved a city ordinance intended to increase energy awareness that requires large commercial buildings to report energy and water use annually, beginning in 2014. Cities that already have this requirement include Austin, Texas; New York; Philadelphia; San Francisco; Seattle and Washington, DC.