In rankings released yesterday, the City of Holland is ranked fourth among 50 cities nationwide competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a contest that is challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use.

To earn its 4th place ranking, Holland currently holds a net -20 in energy reduction. The current leader, Huntsville, Ala., holds a net -32. The results are an accumulation of data from the first two quarters of 2015 and are available at http://guep.iconics.com. GUEP is a two-year competition.

“In less than a year, Holland homeowners have become more conscious of their energy usage, and it is because of their efforts that we are ranked as one of GUEP’s most energy efficient cities,” said Nancy DeBoer, mayor, Holland. “We are only one quarter of the way through this contest and Holland’s volunteer and marketing efforts are just getting started. We look forward to the next reporting from GUEP.”

The GUEP competition officially kicked off in January 2015 and the City of Holland has worked collaboratively with Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) and SEMCO ENERGY Gas Company to develop participatory, community-facing programs to help reduce energy consumption.

“Holland is a world-class city that values collaboration, and because of that, we have become a contender in the Georgetown Energy Prize,” said Ryan Cotton, city manager, Holland. “Our volunteers have knocked on thousands of doors to tell this story, and there is an entire year remaining, so we still have work to do. Holland needs the resolve of the entire city to earn first place and win $5 million to support the new Holland Energy Fund.”

GUEP rankings represent an estimated snapshot of the overall energy score, which calculates each community’s reduction in overall energy use in 2015, compared to the same period in 2013 and 2014. It also adjusts for number of households, weather and to account for the energy used in producing and distributing the energy.

“The buzz around the competition is growing, but we need to make a concerted effort to keep residents excited and interested in reducing their energy consumption if we want to win the prize,” said Dave Koster, general manager, HBPW. “Residents can call the city or HBPW for an immediate energy savings package. The long-term goal is to save homeowners money and help our environment too.”

To reach residents on a personal level, volunteers from throughout the City, City employees and HBPW employees rallied together for two different energy blitzes, one in June and most recently in November. Additionally, the City and HBPW have participated in community events, used a variety of marketing techniques including videos, social media, radio ads and billboards, and implemented quarterly competitions with prizes to help incentivize residents to take action.

“We implemented the quarterly competitions through City of Holland and HBPW Facebook pages as an easy way to remind residents how they can be energy-conscious, and give them the opportunity to contribute to the competition in a fun way,” said Anne Saliers, community energy services manager, HBPW. “In fact, we have a competition running right now! Throw on your ugly holiday sweater and upload the photo to the HBPW or City of Holland Facebook pages for a chance to win a Nest thermostat valued at $250.”

Anyone interested in the city of Holland’s progress can use the interactive dashboard at http://guep.iconics.com. There, visitors will see an aggregated electric and natural gas energy consumption from the municipal and residential sectors. The residential sector includes all homes, condos, apartments and other residential properties within the community while the municipal sector includes all government buildings, K-12 schools, public infrastructure and other public services provided by the city and/or county.

In 2014, the city of Holland developed a comprehensive strategy and tactics to reduce energy usage by municipal and residential buildings. The final outcome is intended to be utilized by cities of all sizes across the country, making it as important for Holland's plan to be efficient as well as replicable and scalable.

To learn more about the Georgetown University Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit www.guep.org, or follow the Prize on Twitter (@GUEnergyPrize) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/guenergyprize).