The Lawrence Community team, leadership pictured above, saved the highest total amount of any community. They hold a basketball signed by Kansas Governor Brownback. The basketball signifies both the sport's history in Kansas, as well as the fact that the average Kansas home has enough energy leaks in their home to equal a basketball-sized hole in their roof.

How did the Climate and Energy Project (CEP), a small environmental organization that has received Recovery Act funding, achieve $2.3 million in savings annually for Kansans?

They found a way to bring together community groups in an effort to foster energy efficient behavior. CEP engaged Kansas residents through the Take Charge Challenge, a 9-month competition in which residents across 16 communities competed against each other to save the most energy and money. These communities held over 1,000 events and programs involving over 400,000 Kansans. Community leadership got together to develop strategies on how to best get their friends and families to reduce energy waste, including changing their lightbulbs or weatherizing their houses.
Participants were saving money by saving energy… and winning. The prize? Four communities each received a $100,000 energy efficiency or renewable energy grant. CEP recently announced the four regional winners, who will be supported by the Kansas Corporation Commission, which has received $47.7 million in Recovery Act Funds. The Commission allocated $1.2 million dollars - $400,000 for winners, $400,000 for communities to spend on the challenge and $220,000 to CEP for staff, travel, promotion and approved expenses - to run the Challenge. Changing habits is no easy task, but when it becomes about winning, the benefits become much clearer: saving money, saving energy, and creating a sense of community pride.
“These true competitors worked hard to connect with neighbors and friends to distinguish their communities as leaders in energy and money savings," said Dorothy Barnett, executive director of CEP. "Their hard work will benefit these towns for years to come.”
In total, the communities of the Take Charge Challenge saved:
    •    110.2 billion BTUS of gas and electricity with an annual value of $2,341,025;
    •    22 million kilowatt hours of electricity
    •    19,002 barrels of oil from being imported
    •    22 million pounds of CO2 emissions from being released.

CEP's success in developing dialogue around energy efficiency caught the eye of Berkeley Lab's Merrian Fuller, a electricity-market, policy and consumer behavior expert. In a report Fuller co-authored at Berkeley on strategies for home energy efficiency, she singled out the Climate and Energy Project (CEP) as an outstanding example of how you raise awareness about energy efficiency in communities.
The Climate + Energy Project seeks to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in America’s Heartland through the ambitious deployment of energy efficiency andrenewable energy, in policy and practice.
For more about CEP and the Take Charge Challenge, visit here.