DO IT FOR THE GREEN ... The City of Palo Alto has entered yet another green competition, but this one is a big one: the multi-year, $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition that aims to challenge communities across the country to dramatically rethink their energy use. Palo Alto is up against 50 other small to mid-sized communities (a requirement was population size between 5,000 and 250,0000). The city's Utilities Department, with help from Public Works, will work closely with local energy-efficiency experts to develop a sure-to-be-groundbreaking, long-term energy-efficiency plan that must demonstrate effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period. The city must first submit a basic application, after which it will be evaluated against all other applications and then potentially move forward to further stages of the competition. The process doesn't conclude until 2017, when one green haven will win a whopping $5 million to use to implement its energy-saving plan. "Should the city win the competition, staff will seek direction from council regarding where to apply the prize money," states an early staff report indicating the city's intent to participate. The report also indicates various local entities that could hop on board to help with the effort: Acterra, Carbon Free Palo Alto, Stanford University and the Palo Alto Unified School District, among others.
DROUGHT REPORT ... No more frolicking in Stanford fountains in the warm weather. The university announced this week a temporary 5 percent cutback in its water use, a goal it hopes to achieve by immediately implementing a range of water-conservation measures, from shutting off and draining the campus's 18 fountains to addressing leaks, calibrating water fixtures, optimizing irrigation systems, retrofitting high-use fixtures and installing smart, weather-based irrigation controllers. Hoping to get more community members on board to combat the state's continuing drought, the university also rolled out a new campaign and website, sustainable.stanford.edu/waterwise, offering tips and resources for individuals' water-conservation. The new efforts are part of what Stanford has dubbed its Drought Response Plan, the result of months of analysis and planning by Land, Buildings & Real Estate staff, sparked by California Gov. Jerry Brown's drought emergency declaration in January.