Schaumburg, Illinois has won a $100,000 cash prize for besting eight other Chicago suburbs in ComEd’s Community Energy Challenge, which ended on May 31. Over the course of the year-long energy-reduction competition, the town saved 6.8 million kilowatt-hours of energy and also reduced its water consumption by 900,000 gallons, according to village officials.
The nine participating communities collectively saved about 34.9 million kilowatt-hours of energy, which is equivalent to the energy used by 2,000 homes in a year. In addition, their efforts reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 25,541 metric tons, which is like taking almost five thousand cars off the road for a year.
Schaumburg installed more-efficient lights at its three fire stations, the public safety building, and the Prairie Center for the Arts. They used motion-sensor lights where possible, light-emitting diode lights were used at some traffic signals. Village facilities and the local library had free energy audits conducted, and local schools also participated in the energy reduction campaign.
The village has not yet determined how it will use the $100,000 cash prize, but they do plan to finish current energy-savings projects. A bike path near Irving Park Road and the commuter station is also planned, but that may come out of other funding sources.
Other suburbs made significant energy strides during the contest. For instance, Oak Park saved 1.5 million kilowatt-hours using similar strategies like motion-sensor lighting and a reduction in the number of bulbs on at once. The village also saved 50 million gallons of water thanks to water valve replacement and leak repair. Rush Oak Park Hospital was major part of the energy conservation efforts, saving $1.2 million in electricity over the course of the year. Local grade schools also got involved with a contest to collect the most wrappers from energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Many of the villages that participated in the contest say the contest inspired them to make simple changes that they hope to continue in the future.