Columbia receives grant for CoMo Energy Challenge

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia announced Wednesday it has received a grant for the CoMo Energy Challenge.

The Office of Sustainability received a $67,000 grant from Partners for Places, a project of the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, in order for the city to participate in the CoMo Energy Challenge.

"What this is from is a foundation, a group of foundations, that have pulled together their resources and they want to help communities that have sustainability offices actually make lasting change and improvements," Sustainability Office Manager Barbara Buffaloe said.

Columbia was one of 10 cities awarded the grant in North America.

"It feels fantastic, because it took a lot of work to partner with a local foundation to do this, which is new. City's don't normally partner with these foundations," Buffaloe said.

Buffaloe said one of the qualifications for the grant was that a city's sustainability office partner with a local foundation for additional funds. The Community Foundation of Central Missouri partnered with the city and will grant an additional $67,000 from one component of its funds, the Fair Enough Funds. The fund is a direct match to the grant from Partners for Places.

"We're glad to work with the city and we appreciate the partnership that the Community Foundation has with the city of Columbia," Executive Director John Baker said. "We are pleased to help them get this program off the ground."

Buffaloe said The CoMo Energy Challenge is the city's effort to secure a Georgetown University Energy Prize. She said the GUEP is a competition for small to mid-size communities to reduce the amount of energy used per capita for the city. She said the grant will help the city fund programs for the next two years.

"They will really encourage people to save energy at home, and also in our schools, and in our municipal buildings," Buffaloe said.

The prize for the GUEP is $5 million, she said, and has the additional benefit of changing local energy habits.

"We know that we will all benefit by change because we will all save money on our utility bills and also be more comfortable in our homes," Buffaloe said.

The city also used the grant to hire a new staff member to assist in the efforts of the CoMo Energy Competition, she said. The staff person will start going out into the community trying to find out what will motivate people to save energy at home along with gathering opinions on what programs the city should offer, Buffaloe said.