Palo Alto Weekly

News - November 29, 2013

Around Town

ROLLING IN THE GREEN ... Palo Alto leaders wax ecstatically about the city's achievements in the field of sustainability, from a carbon-free electricity portfolio and an aggressive green-building code to a freshly adopted requirement that all new homes be prewired for electric-vehicle chargers. Now, the city is preparing to jump into the ring with other eco-conscious communities, with the goal of finding out who is the greenest of them all. The City Council will consider on Dec. 2 a staff recommendation to enter the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, a three-year effort to boost energy efficiency. It's not just bragging rights on the line. The winner in this wonkish war would get a prize of $5 million, which would be set aside for further energy-efficiency efforts. Communities with populations between 5,000 and 250,000 are eligible to compete. If the Palo Alto council agrees to enter the fray, the city will be asked to put together a long-term energy-efficiency plan and to demonstrate sustainability over a two-year period. Between August 2014 and August 2016, the communities will see who can most greatly reduce residential and municipal use of electricity and natural gas (savings will be tallied by taking total usage in these buildings and dividing it by the number of accounts). City Manager James Keene is asking the council to submit a letter of intent to participate in the competition, which according to a Keene staff report seeks to "develop an implement innovative, replicable, scalable and continual reductions in residential and municipal energy use."

BECAUSE WHY NOT? ... It's been a good week for the Cardinal in the age-old contest over Bay Area bragging rights between Stanford University and University of California at Berkeley. Berkeley's Golden Bears received a sound thrashing in last Saturday's 63-13 Big Game loss, leaving the Stanford Axe, the Big Game's trophy, on Palo Alto's side of the Bay for the fourth year straight. It was the 116th time the two schools had squared off. On Monday, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 American scholars that would travel to study at Oxford University under the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, another opportunity for the big schools in the U.S. to flex their brain power. Stanford had three students chosen for the program and Berkeley had one. To compound the ache of these two bruises, Stanford Magazine on Tuesday tweeted a link to a list that ranked the schools in the U.S. with a Rhodes scholar by the success of their football programs. In the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, which Cal and Stanford share, the list put Stanford at the top (with the double whammy of the best-ranked team and the most Rhodes scholars) and Cal at the bottom. The Magazine's sly comment to accompany the link? "Because why not?"

MONEY IN THE BANK ... Supporters of the Aurora light-sculpture project were biting their nails this week, watching the clock tick by on a Kickstarter campaign that needed to raise $35,000 by Monday, Nov. 25, at midnight, or else would lose all the money that had been donated via the crowd-sourced funding website. But they made it. The project was fully funded around 8 or 8:30 on Tuesday night, said project organizer Harry Hirschman, and actually surpassed the $35,000 mark, raising a total of $36,155. The funds will pay for expenses the artist who designed Aurora, Charles Gadeken, has already incurred for installation of the piece in front of Palo Alto's City Hall. The interactive light sculpture's server was also down for a few days but is now running smoothly, Hirschman said.

FEELING FESTIVE? ... Saturday, Nov. 30, will be Palo Alto's day to celebrate the holiday season, and it's doing so with a raft of events and activities at Lytton Plaza from 4 to 7 p.m. This year's new addition is a mini snowman-building contest, in which contestants can provide their own materials to create and dress up 12-inch snowmen. Leave your portable freezers at home: The city will provide the snow. There will be live music from five local student groups and a lighting of the city's 20-foot-tall Christmas tree. Attendees can slurp some hot cider to warm up and are invited to bring a warm coat to donate to Palo Alto's nonprofit Downtown Streets Team to help those in need.

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