Bend Energy Challenge – Youth Energy Heroes
At the Environmental Center, we believe that educating kids about sustainability is crucial to a healthy future for people and the planet. We teach local students to understand the connection between humans and the environment and to make decisions that reduce their impact.
The Bend Energy Challenge, an initiative of The Environmental Center, is Bend, Oregon’s team in theGeorgetown University Energy Prize – a national competition to reduce energy use. After a two-year competition period in 2015 and 2016, a $5 million prize will be awarded to the community that leads the way in reducing energy use.
The Energy Prize competition challenges participating communities to tap their imagination and work collaboratively to reduce energy use – to become “energy heroes.” It is a great fit for Bend’s creative, competitive and entrepreneurial spirit, and presents a unique opportunity to organize and build momentum for clean, renewable energy and a low-carbon future in Bend.
Involving kids is essential to reducing Bend’s energy use and winning the Energy Prize competition. Not only is youth engagement one of the judging criteria, but youth can also be effective ambassadors for energy conservation and solar. If we want to win, and reduce Bend’s carbon footprint, we must educate, empower and inspire kids to “Take the Pledge!” at home and champions of energy efficiency and solar within their families and peer groups.
The majority of Bend public school students will be back in school September 9-11, 2015. Therefore, there is a sense of urgency to raise funds this summer so that Bend Energy Challenge programming can be implemented as soon as kids are back in the classroom.
Over the next year, we will:
- Deliver a four-part energy education program to at least 1,000 6th graders in Bend schools. Through fun, interactive and hands-on learning experiences, students will learn about energy sources, how they can conserve energy at home and the benefits of going solar.
- Promote an inter-school competition among Bend high school students, using school assemblies and presentations, social media, prizes and existing inter-school rivalries to encourage youth involvement.
- Get 1,500 middle and high school students to “Take the Pledge!” and save energy at home.
why we’re doing it
Energy demand in the Pacific Northwest is projected to increase 33% by 2030. Studies have shown that we can meet most of that new demand through energy efficiency measures, and that efficiency is one of the lowest cost ways to meet increased demand for many utilities and their rate payers. Energy efficiency also allows us to delay costly investments in new fossil-fuel power plants while alternative, low-carbon energy technologies mature and come down in cost.
The Bend Energy Challenge allows us the unique opportunity to leverage our entire community, in addition to sophisticated technology and resources, in a way that promotes a move towards a clean energy economy.
In order to make the largest impact possible, we must start educating youth about energy conservation this fall. We believe that educating for sustainability is crucial. The choices and actions we make today will affect our future environment and the next generation. We can use the classroom as an avenue for teaching children why it is important to save energy, explaining the difference between renewable and nonrenewable energy sources, and demonstrating ways to cut back on energy use. Through this program, we can inspire and empower kids to become advocates for energy efficiency within their own families and peer groups.
The more kids we have on board and taking/sharing the pledge, the closer we get to winning the $5 million prize – and reducing Bend’s overall carbon footprint.