How did Bend do in the national competition for $5 million?

In January 2015, we said “If we win, we win. And if we lose, we still win.” We were confident that our work would result in real reductions in energy use that paid off for Bend, in cost savings and reductions in climate pollution.

The results are in


Same hot water. Reliable Savings.

A heat pump water heater uses two to three times less energy as a standard electric water heater. Great incentives and longer warranties make these a no-brainer even if your current water heater hasn’t left you in a cold shower yet.

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It all started in 2013 with a simple proposition:

Bend should lead the way to a low-carbon, clean energy future.

If we want to leave a healthy climate for our kids and grandkids, we’ve got to start somewhere. Why not right here at home? After all, Central Oregon has abundant sunlight, a strong environmental ethic and an innovative, can-do approach to solving problems.

But in 2013, our community lacked a grassroots campaign focused on energy use.  So we set out to create one.

The result was The Bend Energy Challenge, Bend’s team in the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition to reduce energy use and win a $5 million prize. We launched with this opportunity in mind: Energy efficiency and conservation are zero-emissions “fuels” that can help our community and country meet growing energy needs, often at a lower cost than other fuels.

Our story


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The Energy Challenge of Central Oregon is a project of The Environmental Center, a Bend, Oregon, nonprofit organization whose mission is to embed sustainable thinking and behavior into daily life in Central Oregon. We seek to build a society that meets human needs equitably, lives within our planet’s ecological limits, and build a prosperous economy for all.