Georgetown University Launches $5 Million Prize: A Nationwide Challenge for American Communities to Reduce Energy Use

Washington, D.C. Announcement Unveils First 51 Communities, Invites Others to Apply

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman speaking about the importance of energy efficiency at the Georgetown University Energy Prize launch. Credit: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ., Copyright: 2014 Georgetown University

WASHINGTON--()--Today, the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a $5 million incentive competition to reduce America’s energy consumption, announced a list of 51 communities who have signed letters of intent to compete. This announcement signals the opening of the Prize’s Application Phase for the nearly 9,000 eligible U.S. communities with a population between 5,000 and 250,000.

The nationwide competition aims to dramatically improve America’s energy standing by challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use—specifically household and municipal consumption of electricity and natural gas.

“The cheapest way to reduce emissions is energy efficiency, and by partnering with communities, businesses and state and local governments we can drive greater energy efficiency further and faster,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman at the event. “We applaud these communities as they save homes and businesses money by saving energy and protect our air and water.”

The Georgetown University Energy Prize will serve as a catalyst to set America on the path toward long-term, positive change by leveraging our most critical zero-emissions “fuel” source: energy efficiency.

Communities will work in partnership with their local governments, residents, and utilities to reduce energy consumption over a two-year period. A judging committee, to be announced in late 2014, will evaluate competitors on a specific set of weighted objectives, including their ability to:

  • Spur innovative, replicable, scalable, and continual approaches for communities to decrease their energy consumption;
  • Highlight best practices for working with utilities, businesses, and local governments to create and implement inventive plans for increased energy efficiency;
  • Educate the public and engage residents on energy efficiency issues, including methods, benefits, and the environmental costs of the full fuel cycle; and
  • Collaborate with schools to educate and inspire the next generation of energy efficiency leaders in the United States.

The following 51 communities today publicly signaled their intent to compete in the Georgetown University Energy Prize:

  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Berkeley, California
  • Chula Vista, California
  • Danville, California
  • Davis, California
  • Fremont, California
  • Palo Alto, California
  • Redlands, California
  • Sunnyvale, California
  • Brighton, Colorado
  • Durango, Colorado
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • St. Petersburg, Florida
  • Monroe County, Indiana
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Malden, Massachusetts
  • Takoma Park, Maryland
  • Farmington/Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • Holland, Michigan
  • Houghton County, Michigan
  • Duluth, Minnesota
  • Columbia, Missouri
  • St. Francois County, Missouri
  • Somersworth, New Hampshire
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Athens County, Ohio
  • Oberlin, Ohio
  • Osage Nation, Oklahoma
  • Bend, Oregon
  • Centre Region Council of Governments, Pennsylvania
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Park City/Summit County, Utah
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Arlington County, Virginia
  • Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Roanoke, Virginia
  • South Burlington, Vermont
  • Waterbury/Duxbury, Vermont
  • Anacortes, Washington
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • San Juan County, Washington
  • Walla Walla, Washington
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • River Falls, Wisconsin

“We’re thrilled by the tremendous enthusiasm and excitement we’ve seen for the Georgetown University Energy Prize in just the last few months,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Executive Director of the Prize. “Despite the many initiatives and incentives available, the adoption rate for energy efficiency programs remains at about 5 percent. We need radical thinking, starting at the community level, to fix this ‘stuck’ problem—and that’s what the Prize is all about.”

During the Application Phase—which concludes on June 30, 2014—all eligible communities are encouraged to submit applications to compete for the Prize. The Application Phase will be followed by Quarterfinals, and Semifinals, and will conclude in 2017 when one winning community is awarded a $5 million prize purse for use on energy efficiency programs.

The Georgetown University Program on Science in the Public Interest is leading the Prize with support from the McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative and the Georgetown University Environment Initiative.

“Developing breakthrough innovations in energy efficiency is a cross-sector challenge requiring an interdisciplinary approach,” noted Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia. “As a leading academic and research institution, Georgetown has long inspired and prepared students to engage the world’s most complex issues. We are proud to play a vital role as the convener of not only the Energy Prize, but also the research and ideas that inspire its work.”

The Georgetown University Energy Prize has received support and encouragement from several organizations, including the U.S. Department of Energy, The Joyce Foundation, and the American Gas Association. For a full list of collaborators, and to learn about how these organizations will play a role in the competition, visit

Fundraising for the $5 million prize purse is ongoing, and a complete list of financial sponsors will be announced in late 2014. Although led by Georgetown University, all funding for the prize purse is being provided by private, outside donations.

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize).

About Georgetown University Energy Prize

The Georgetown University Energy Prize aims to rethink America’s energy use by harnessing the ingenuity and community spirit of towns and cities all across America. Over the course of a two-year period, the Prize will challenge 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. For more information, visit

About Georgetown University

Georgetown University is the oldest and largest Catholic and Jesuit university in America, founded in 1789 by Archbishop John Carroll. Georgetown, today, is a major student-centered, international research university offering respected undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in Washington, D.C., Doha, Qatar, and around the world. For more information about Georgetown University, visit


Georgetown University Energy Prize
Carrie Fox, 202-255-9214


Georgetown University Energy Prize
Carrie Fox, 202-255-9214