Madison Will Compete In National Energy Conservation Competition

52 Cities Will Try To Innovate And Produce Long-Term Savings Through Efficiency To Win $5M

The Madison Public Library achieved LEED Gold certification, in part through its innovations in energy efficiency. Photo: Erik Lorenzson/WPR.

Madison will participate in a first-ever national energy conservation competition that will award $5 million to a community that is the most innovative and generates the most long-term savings through its initiatives.

Seventy-two communities across the nation submitted applications to participate in the Georgetown University-sponsored event, but only 52 of them made the cut. The competition will track energy use by municipalities and their residents for 2 years. The winner will be announced in 2017.

Jeanne Hoffman, Madison facilities and sustainability manager, said the city has insulated city buildings and has switched to more energy-efficient lighting.

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“I think one of the biggest things that we’ve done systematically throughout our buildings is to make sure that the heating and cooling systems are responsive to the occupancy load,” she said. “What that means is that obviously when there’s no one in the building in the middle of the night, the need for heat and power is very different. So can we automate that.”

Christopher Nelson, who directs the Georgetown University Energy Prize, said rules allow for communities of different size to compete fairly.

“The other way that we are normalizing to create a fair competition across the country is for weather,” said Nelson. “So we’ll be using formulas developed by the (Environmental Protection Agency) and others to normalize for different weather and climate conditions across the country.”

In the Midwest, Madison will be competing against places like Dubuque, Iowa; Fargo, N.D.; Urbana, Ill.; and Duluth, Minn. Communities that use renewable energy do not get preferential treatment.