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Menlo Spark launches 'Green Challenge' online

 

Menlo Spark, a Menlo Park nonprofit seeking to make Menlo Park climate neutral by 2025, has launched an initiative called the "Menlo Green Challenge," which is an online platform that will track participants' energy usage, encourage competition to reduce energy consumption, and provide information on how to achieve those goals.

The website lists 65 actions people can take to reduce their carbon footprint and explains how effective each is and what the costs or cost savings could be.

Action items can be sorted by level of difficulty or by the number of points each task will generate. Each point corresponds to roughly a one pound reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, said Diane Bailey, Menlo Spark's executive director.

On the easy side of the spectrum, replacing one's air conditioning filters gives users 200 points. The most challenging step that yields the most points is buying or leasing an electric vehicle for 14,000 points.

The online dashboard enables schools, neighborhoods or households to compare their greenhouse gas reductions, and could generate friendly competition, Ms. Bailey said.

About 40 people attended an event launching the program at Facebook's headquarters, during which City Council members Kirsten Keith and Ray Mueller spoke about what the city has done to be more environmentally sustainable. Facebook's Sustainability and Outreach Manager Lauren Swezey talked about Facebook's efforts to curb its impact on the environment.

Rising senior at Menlo-Atherton High School Giselle Martinez performed a theme song she had written for the program.

Cafe Zoe, Gerry's Cakes, Z-Ultimate, Bridgepoint Music, Ann's Nail Salon, Occasions, etc., and Trader Joe's have agreed to give certain promotions, such as discounts or small tokens, for participants in the program who reduce their greenhouse gas usage by increments of 20 percent compared to the average household. The average household generates 16 tons of carbon dioxide per year, Ms. Bailey said.

Menlo Park resident and artist Michael Killen, whose paintings deal with environmental issues, has agreed to give several prints to participants who reach certain achievements in the competition.

The pilot program will last for two years, said Ms. Bailey. Fremont also has a "green challenge" program underway, she said.

Go to menlogreenchallenge.org for more information or to sign up.

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