Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) today announced that Hastings, Nebraska, has won its "Be a Better Planet" Greenest City in America challenge. The birthplace of Kool-Aid, Hastings will receive a grand prize of $250,000 to be dedicated toward city greening projects, developed in conjunction with Global Green USA. More than 350 cities participated in the "Be a Better Planet" (http://better.yahoo.com/planet) program, which challenged Americans to take action against climate change and use tools such as Yahoo! Green, Yahoo! Answers and Yahoo! oneSearch to become better planetarians.
Yahoo! also announced the challenge's top ten cities, which ranged from Mill Valley, Calif., to Fairfax, Va.
"The determined green spirit demonstrated by the people of Hastings, Nebraska, underscores Yahoo!'s belief that individual actions can add up to significant change," said Yahoo! Co-Founder David Filo. "Cities from the coasts to the heartland rallied together to participate and we're encouraged by how the citizens came together around this important cause."
Yahoo! will declare Hastings the "Greenest City in America" at a Yahoo!-hosted Nebraska-style BBQ and celebration this evening at 6:00pm at Hastings' Chautauqua Park. Residents of Hastings are invited to join Mayor Matt Rossen as he accepts the award on behalf of the city. Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy will also be in attendance, as well as other state government officials and surrounding city mayors.
"Hastings is honored to be a part of Yahoo!'s 'Be a Better Planet' program and to be crowned as the greenest city in America," said Mayor Rossen. "This achievement has spurred us to become even greener, and we thank all of the citizens in central Nebraska who have supported us and helped promote this great city and state in which we live."
Better City, Better Planet
Following the month-long campaign, the top ten Greenest Cities in America were determined as:
1. Hastings, Nebraska
2. Pelzer, South Carolina
3. San Carlos, California
4. Mill Valley, California
5. Topeka, Kansas
6. Dover, Delaware
7. Spring, Texas
8. Lawrence, Kansas
9. Walnut Creek, California
10. Fairfax, Virginia
In addition to the top prize awarded to Hastings, the top five cities are being rewarded today with deliveries of thousands of energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), compliments of Yahoo!.
Green-minded citizens participated in the "Be a Better Planet" Greenest City in America challenge by earning participation credits in the following ways:
-- Yahoo! Answers: Helping save the planet by earnings the best answer for
an environmental question and contributing to the growing body of
knowledge and advice on Yahoo! Answers;
-- Yahoo! oneSearch: Learning more about living a greener life by
conducting "eco-friendly" mobile searches ("organic food," "public
transport," "recycle center," "bike," "ride share") on Yahoo!
oneSearch, a new search service with results optimized for the mobile
-- Yahoo! Green Pledge: Visiting Yahoo! Green and committing to lowering
their carbon diet by pledging such actions as changing light bulbs,
taking public transportation, using reusable shopping bags, properly
inflating tires, and recycling more.
The Greenest City Gets Greener
The winning city was offered the choice of either a fleet of hybrid taxi cabs, similar to those donated to New York City during the campaign's kickoff on May 14th, or the equivalent cash donation. Hastings, which has signed the U.S. Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement, selected the latter in order to further its city environmental programs. Current initiatives include conversion of methane to energy at its pollution control center, local production of Ethanol E85, extensive networks of parks and hiking and biking trails, and installation of energy-efficient street lighting. Global Green USA will help Hastings identify potential city greening projects, such as expansion of renewable energy programs and energy-efficient renovations for city buildings.
"We are so excited that the residents of Hastings have helped demonstrate their outstanding commitment to smart, sustainable solutions that save money, improve health, and protect our environment," said Global Green USA President Matt Petersen. "We look forward to working with the Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce and all of the city's residents to help recommend the green policies and projects that will benefit the people of Hastings even further and serve as an example for cities across the country."
Inspired by the winning answers contributed by Hastings residents during the challenge, Mayor Rossen will also solicit thoughts and advice for how to invest the $250,000 prize by using Yahoo! Answers, the leading Q&A site on the Web.
Yahoo!'s Commitment to the Planet
Yahoo! has a long track record of supporting environmental sustainability both in its operations and on its global network. Yahoo! has committed to become carbon neutral this year. The company also uses renewable power, hydroelectric energy, and passive cooling at its various facilities and data centers. Its award-winning commute alternatives program offers incentives such as Wi-Fi enabled biodiesel shuttles and generous public transit subsidies. The company has also launched several sustainability-focused product initiatives, including its Yahoo! Green eco-site, the Yahoo! Autos Green Center, and 18Seconds.org, dedicated to educating Americans about the cost-savings and environmental benefits of CFL bulbs.