The CoolCalifornia City Challenge

The CoolCalifornia City Challenge is a competition between California cities to motivate and reward residents for reducing their carbon footprints and helping to build more vibrant communities.

Participants track driving and home energy use to earn "green points" for having low greenhouse gas emissions compared to similar households and "bonus points" (worth 5 times the value of green points) for lowering emissions over time. Each point helps participants' cities earn sustainability funding from Challenge sponsors. Teams of any size collaborate and compete against other teams.

The Challenge is a partnership between the California Air Resources Board, the University of California's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, and the Energy Upgrade California™ initiative.

Challenge FAQs

Who is participating?

Any California city interested in the program is encouraged to join and participate. Cities may sign up starting in January 2014. First, let us know your intent to sign up by sending an e-mail to with "Add My City" in the subject line. Upon receipt of your e-mail, we’ll work with you to get your city officially signed on for the next round of the Challenge. An informational webinar on the sign-up process for cities will be held on Thursday, February 13th. Cities must be signed up by March 30th to qualify for round two of the Challenge and be eligible to receive prize money as part of the contest.

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How is the Challenge run?

A five month program

Round two of the Challenge, which begins April 1, 2014 and concludes August 31, 2014, builds on lessons from round one, which was held during 2013. It incorporates successful community-based social marketing programs that motivate individuals to take climate action and strengthen communities through peer-to-peer capacity building and leadership.

The Competition

Cities will sign up to participate in the program beginning in January with sign up closing on March 30th. In April, those cities that signed up to participate in the ‘City Challenge’ will encourage residents to sign up for the program at the CoolCalifornia Challenge Registration Page and begin tracking their household energy (natural gas and electricity) and motor vehicle emissions. Prize money will be awarded to all participating cities based on the number of new registered households by May 30.

Starting on April 1st and running through the end of August 2014, participating households will be encouraged to track their energy and household vehicle emissions and join EcoTeams, groups of households working together to reduce their carbon footprints, and earn points in the program. At the end of the five month competition, the city with the most points will be crowned the “Coolest California City” for 2014. In addition, two runner-up cities will each earn the title of “Cool California City”, and be awarded second and third place prizes. ALL cities will receive prize money based on the percentage of overall points earned by participants in their city during the competition.

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What do I do?

Every resident in participating cities has the opportunity to contribute to the program. Within cities, households and groups of households will be recognized for their contributions to helping make cities green and more livable. These contributions include actions such as tracking and reducing energy consumption and vehicle miles. By signing up for the Challenge and reporting these actions, participants earn points, which further the standing of their city in the competition. Cities are awarded prize money based on the number of new participants signed up between April 1st and May 30th, so be sure to mark your calendar and sign up starting April 1st!

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What if I didn't receive an activation e-mail after registering?

If you fill out the Challenge registration form and see a notice stating that your registration was successful, but do not see the activation e-mail in your inbox, check your spam folder in case it was sent there accidentally.

Be sure to add "" to your e-mail contacts lists to ensure that your activation e-mail doesn't get lost in the spam folder.

If after 10 minutes you have not received any activation e-mail, you may have entered the wrong e-mail during registration. Try registering again or let us help -- send us an e-mail describing the problem and browser you used to

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What do points do?

Every point earned by a participating household counts as a point for their city, as well as their Ecoteam if they create or join a team in the online software. Points are tallied-up and the city with the most points by the end of the competition is crowned the "Coolest California City," and two runners up are each crowned a “Cool California City”. While points are earned through actions taken by individuals at the household level, the rewards earned from points benefits not only them but their Ecoteam and city as well.

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How do participants and cities earn points?

There are several ways for participants to earn points. Simple actions such as signing up for the Challenge will earn 100 points, and more points can be earned for simple tasks such as uploading a photo, inviting friends to join, and filling out an online survey. Participants also earn points by entering information from their energy bills and tracking the miles driven of each vehicle they own. Households earn one point for every pound of CO2 below average California households with similar characteristics (calculated by the software). Households can also earn “bonus points,” which are worth five times the value of normal points, for improving over their past performance. Points are tracked in the online software and can earn raffle prizes.

For more information on the points system, please refer to our points page.

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What about my city's existing sustainablility communities?

We're working with your city!

The program is designed to integrate with city’s existing sustainability initiatives and support citywide greenhouse gas reduction goals. The Challenge serves as a platform to actively engage diverse populations of residents, acting in multiple contexts (households, peer networks, schools, businesses, at the policy level, etc.), under a shared goal of lowering consumption of energy and emissions of greenhouse gases.

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Who runs the CoolCalifornia City Challenge?

The CoolCalifornia City Challenge is collaboration between California government, university and non-profit organizations with support from programs sponsors. The program is a collaboration between the California Air Resources Board, the University of California, Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and the Energy Upgrade California™. initiative. CoolCalifornia aims to provide all Californians with the tools they need to take action to protect the climate and keep California cool. Participating cities help administer programs at the local level and serve as the primary point of contact for program participants.


The CoolCalifornia City Challenge is made possible in large part by contributions from Program Sponsors in addition to key supporters including the California Air Resources Board, the California Public Utilities Commission and the University of California, Berkeley's Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. The primary sponsor and partner for the 2014 CoolCalifornia City Challenge is Energy Upgrade California™. For information about sponsorship opportunities, please see the sponsorship page or contact the CoolCalifornia City Challenge at


The CoolCalifornia City Challenge would not be possible without the amazing talents and hours so generously donated by scores of volunteers.

The Challenge thanks our wonderful interns at the University of California, Berkeley headquarters for volunteering between busy class schedules to improve the Challenge experience for participants.

We could not be more grateful for the amazing efforts of coordinated volunteer armies affiliated with local sustainability organizations of the Challenge. You are the right hand of the Challenge mission! Additionally, many city staff members have even donated unpaid personal time to help make the challenge happen. We thank you for going above and beyond to work through the pilot phase with us.

And as a picture says a thousand words, our photographers deserve so many more words of thanks than are available on this page. Please review our Photography Credits page to learn more about our talented and generous photography staff.

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