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Hays predicted to win Take Charge Challenge

1/29/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

Hays is predicted to win the energy-saving MOKAN Take Charge Challenge that began Aug. 1 and ends Friday. The city has been competing against Kansas City, Kan., Hutchinson and Warrensburg, Mo. Hays has collected more than double the points of all other cities involved.

The first TCC began in 2009 as a way to increase sustainability within residential communities. Nancy Jackson, founder, aimed to make energy saving competitive. This year, the TCC focused on businesses within the cities.

"The Climate and Energy Project wanted to do the competition in comparable-sized cities," said Michael Volker, director of regulatory and energy services at Midwest Energy Inc. "Up until now, it's been communities, putting one community against another. Now they're trying to come up with different ways to create sustainability practices."

The Thomas More Prep-Marian administration building leads the Hays team with approximately 7,000 points. Northwestern Printers Inc. is following with approximately 6,000 points.

Other competitors are Holy Family Elementary School, Nex-Tech, Ellis County, Midwest Energy, Hays Area Chamber of Commerce, Eagle Communications, Hays Water Softening Plant, Cross Manufacturing Inc., Master Cleaners, Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development, Hadley Center and Kansas State University Agriculture Research Center.

"TMP and Northwestern Printers are going back-to-back," Volker said. "It's fun to see the competition between them. That really is the only entertaining part of the competition because no one else is even close."

Points are figured based on tasks the company completes. Tasks include attending Take Charge Challenge events, educating employees and upgrading equipment to meet Energy Star standards.

"A lot of the tasks are associated with educating employees so they can take the sustainability practices home and change the culture," said Sandra Beisner, TCC leadership team. "It's not just a matter of implementing upgrades. It's mainly about education."

Volker said the challenge has three objectives.

"They want to improve the cultural aspect, sustainability within organizations," he said. "Then the social aspect, how is sustainability perceived outside of organization. And they want to include the financial aspect; they want this to improve the bottom-line cost."

More than $200,000 is estimated to be saved annually as a result of the challenge.

The challenge also aims to improve water conservation.

"The TCC is focused mainly on sustainability, but lately it's been focused on energy savings," Volker said. "We've talked them into including water savings, especially since water is such an issue out here."

The winning community will receive $10,000 from the Climate and Energy Project to be used for a sustainability project. The winning company will receive $5,000 from Midwest Energy for the same purpose.

"The prize money will help offset the implementation costs," Beisner said, "or it will help them do some more improvements."

Volker added Midwest Energy is throwing in free energy audits to any company that participated.

After Hays officially is pronounced the winner, a victory celebration will take place in February. The specific date will be announced soon.

For more information, visit www.takechargechallenge.com/mokan.