DC having fun while improving sustainability

A key aspect of greening the economy is encouraging organizations and individuals to reduce their ecological footprints. To achieve this the District of Columbia (DC) has initiated the Smarter DC Challenge and Power DC program to help organizations and buildings, as well as individuals, reduce resource consumption in a friendly and fun way.

Smarter DC Challenge: having fun while improving sustainability

The Smarter DC Challenge enables organizations and buildings to show leadership in sustainable resource consumption by embedding a culture of sustainability in their organizations and DC workplaces while encouraging their peers to follow suit. The program is divided into two separate competitions:

  1. For organizations
  2. For property owners and managers

To earn points and win the competition Challenge participants complete activities that include: reducing energy, water and waste; facilitating education and outreach activities; purchasing sustainably products and materials; reducing pollution and showing innovation. As the Challenge participants earn points in each activity they move up the Leaderboard enabling participants and their peers to compare their progress and earn recognition along the way.

DC having fun while improving sustainability

DC having fun while improving sustainability

Power Down DC

Another competition the District has created is Power Down DC, which is a multifamily energy and water challenge that sees residents of multifamily buildings – over a four-month period – compete as a team to beat their past building usage by 5% and beat other buildings in the competition by making the greatest reduction in energy and water use overall. To encourage reductions in energy and water consumption the program also holds focused events with individual and group activities to reinforce new behaviors of resource conservation.

Each month building teams earn points in the three equally weighted categories of energy, water and participation with the goal of earning 200 points in total:

  • Energy points are awarded based on the percent energy reduction from the baseline: a 1% reduction earns 10 points each month towards the overall total of 200 points
  • Water points are awarded based on the percent water reduction from the baseline: a 1% reduction earns 10 points per month towards the overall total of 200 points
  • Participation points are awarded for activities completed by both building leaders and resident participants

The take-out

One of the most effective ways of promoting sustainable resource consumption – in addition to making it fun – is socializing consumption patterns so participants and their peers can track and compare progress over time.

*Robert C. Brears is the author of Urban Water Security (Wiley). Urban Water Security argues that, with climate change and rapid urbanization, cities need to transition from supply-side to demand-side management to achieve urban water security.

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Author: Robert C. Brears

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