The city of Fargo was named the winner of the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a two-year long nationwide competition of 50 communities. Each community was challenged to rethink how they could use energy more efficiently.
“Fargo built an extraordinary program that brought together the community through partnerships, leveraged local assets, and utilized a strong benchmarking system”
“Community-based initiatives are rising to the forefront of our national conversation about sustainability,” said Energy Prize executive director Uwe Brandes. “The communities that have participated in this competition have invented and implemented new approaches to reduce energy consumption and on that journey they have saved money and provided new leadership models for other communities to act.”Over the last month a panel of judges representing academia and industry evaluated each community’s approach to innovative, replicable, and scalable energy efficiency programs. The 10 finalist communities were scored in weighted categories, including innovation; potential for replication; likely future performance; equitable access, community and stakeholder engagement; education; and overall quality and success. The winner was selected based on a combination of energy performance scores and the creation and advancement of new best practices over the course of the two-year energy-saving period.
“Fargo built an extraordinary program that brought together the community through partnerships, leveraged local assets, and utilized a strong benchmarking system,” said Brandes, who led the final stage of the Energy Prize and is faculty director of the master’s program in Urban and Regional Planning at Georgetown. “Fargo’s effort, which brought together the city, North Dakota State University and two local energy utilities, provides innovative, replicable, and scalable approaches to energy efficiency that could be deployed in communities nationwide.”
As a city in an oil-rich state, Fargo had only a little existing infrastructure around energy efficiency when the competition began. In two years, Fargo reduced overall energy consumption by over 172 million BTUs, to earn a ranking of fourth among the 50 semifinalists in Overall Energy Score.
Fargo developed a community partnership, eFargo, which mobilized efforts through a dedicated web portal. eFargo assembled a collection of energy-use data on a granular level, allowing the community to access and interpret both aggregated data and data by specific sector, including the energy performance of individual schools. A community engagement strategy, which included digital gamification, helped empower and educate residents.