LANCASTER – The City of Lancaster has been awarded the National Energy Globe Award for its many alternative energy projects, officials announced Tuesday.
Founded in 2000, by Austrian engineer and environmentalist Wolfgang Neumann, the Energy Globe Award is one of today’s most prominent awards for sustainability.
“It’s been labeled the ‘Oscars’ of the sustainability movement,” said City Manager Mark Bozigian, at a press conference Tuesday. “The City of Lancaster, with our three partners, won it for the entire United States.”
“The City of Lancaster has made great strides toward our goal of becoming the alternative energy capital of the world, yet we couldn’t have done it without our partners,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “It is our successful public-private partnerships with companies such as KB Home, BYD, and SolarCity that have multiplied our efforts, increased our efficiency, and helped us achieve these accomplishments in a very short period of time.”
Each year, Energy Globe award winners are selected from more than 800 projects in 105 countries with the goal of presenting successful sustainable projects to a broad audience. According to the selection committee, the City of Lancaster’s submission, “Leading the Way in Public and Private Partnership for the Development of Alternative Energy Projects,” demonstrated that local government can be instrumental in furthering formidable energy conservation issues.
Lancaster collaborated with KB Home and China-based BYD for its “Home of the Future” project, an initiative to provide affordable energy efficient homes that run on solar power and capture it in a battery for future use.
Construction was done by KB Home, while BYD provided the solar panels and backup battery technology.
“And then we streamlined the permitting process,” said Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle.
“Now we have a house that can be built worldwide that produces more electricity than it uses and it will be cheaper…” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “That is truly a phenomenal accomplishment.”
The project was complemented by the solar financing program “Solar Lancaster,” which was created in partnership with SolarCity to provide businesses and homeowners the opportunity to pay less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power.
“The Solar Lancaster program gave local homeowners, businesses, schools, places of worship and other non-profits the chance to use cleaner energy for a lower price, while the customer response allowed us to open a local operations center and create local jobs,” said Jim Cahill of SolarCity.
“Amongst all the projects submitted from the United States, the City of Lancaster‘s endeavors shone the brightest,” said Austrian Trade Commissioner Rudolf Thaler. “This forward-thinking city is harnessing the power of one of its greatest natural resources—the sun—and taking advantage of the abundant opportunities for solar energy present in this particular portion of Southern California’s High-Desert region.”
Lancaster has more than 325 days of sunshine per year, making it the ideal place to pioneer new solar energy technologies, according to a city news release.
Parris said he is pushing for a city ordinance, to be implemented by the end of the year, that would require all new homes built in Lancaster to have a solar component.
“How much of the percentage of the power has to be solar, we haven’t determined yet,” Parris said, adding that it would take some negotiation with builders. “It’s ludicrous not to make that mandatory.”
On June 5, World Environment Day, Energy Globe, in cooperation with UNIDO, UNEP and UNESCO, presented exceptional environmental projects from around the world, publishing the Lancaster project on the Energy Globe website at www.energyglobe.info.