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5 North California Cities Jockey to be ‘Coolest’

California's Marin County is doing its part in trying to slow down the effects of Climate Change, participating in the CoolCalifornia Challenge that pits cities against one another in lowering carbon footprint.

(TNS) -- Five Marin municipalities are vying for the title of “Coolest California City” in a statewide race to save energy and conserve natural resources.

Sausalito, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur and Fairfax are among 22 cities and towns participating in the “CoolCalifornia Challenge,” an initiative to encourage residents to reduce their carbon footprint by taking steps to save water and choose clean energy.

Each city will get a piece of $150,000 that will go toward local sustainability projects. The winner will earn the biggest cut.

“Marin in general has been a leader in sustainability,” said Pamela Wellner, manager of Climate Change Programs for Energy Upgrade California, the group behind the initiative. “We really want that to come through in the challenge.”

So far, Marin cities aren’t faring too well. Fairfax, in 15th place, is leading in Marin. Corte Madera and Sausalito are in 21st and 22nd place, respectively.

But for the most part, Marin’s cities and towns have been active in spreading the word, encouraging residents to sign up for the challenge at

When residents register, they can earn points for their city by entering information about their energy use.

“When you take actions like replacing your lights with LED, the website tool gives you an automatic quantification of what you’re doing,” said Allison Hang, community development manger of Marin Clean Energy. LED stands for light emitting diode, a technology that consumes far less energy than traditional light bulbs.

Marin Clean Energy, the joint powers authority that offers electricity through renewable energy, invited towns and cities to participate in the challenge.

“It’s just a fun way to reinforce what we are already trying to do,” Hang said.

Last month, Fairfax Councilwoman Barbara Coler, who sits on the Marin Clean Energy board, participated in a video push to get more residents to sign up.

“Fairfax is really committed to being a leader in environmental issues,” she said.

“We were the first to have the plastic bag ban. We want to continue solar energy and reduce greenhouse emissions,” she said. “This is just an added piece that fits into that.”

Corte Madera Mayor Sloan Bailey and Larkspur Vice Mayor Kevin Haroff are also Marin Clean Energy board members. Each released a video campaign.

“It’s in line with our climate action plan,” Bailey said, which is on the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting. Bailey said the town has made changes with energy efficient bulbs and lighting fixtures at Town Hall and at the town’s Fire Station 14.

Furthermore, the yellow intersection signals in Corte Madera will be replaced with LED lights on an ongoing basis. This summer, the green and red lights will be replaced.

“This challenge is really to reward the residents, and it’s a fun way to do it,” he said.

Haroff agreed.

“It’s a fun competitive way to highlight energy efficiency,” he said. “It’s a great program.”

The challenge ends March 30. Residents can register through the final day.

©2016 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.