TRACY -- The city of Tracy is reducing its carbon footprint one step at a time, and its efforts have put it in the running to be one of the "coolest" cities in the state.
The city has been selected as one of the top four in California in the "CoolCalifornia Challenge," a months-long program that tests Californians to see if they can reduce things like gas emissions, water usage and energy.
The city that reduces its footprint the most at the end of a given month is awarded $10,000 to go toward an environmental project.
"We were initially nervous about how the campaign would start off because this is the first time the city has been in a large competition like this," said Kimberly Matlock, Tracy's assistant planner. "But this is a great community that comes together and is enthusiastic about programs like this."
So far, Tracy has the most residents taking part in the program, 331.
The next closest city is Chula Vista in Southern California, with 287.
Other Bay Area cities were also a part of the challenge, though none made it to the top spot. Pleasanton, with 164 participants, made it as far as fifth place.
Pittsburg, San Jose and Santa Cruz rounded out the top 10 cities, though their participation levels combined totaled less than Pleasanton's.
Laura Ryan, Pleasanton's manager of energy and sustainability, said while the city did not make it into the finals of the competition, it will still be recognized as a "cool
Ryan added that she believed Pleasanton did extremely well given the city's population and the campaign team; she ran the campaign alone.
"I think if you look at per capita, the top three cities are much, much larger than Pleasanton," she said. "They had armies of people working on the campaign, and here it was just me. If you normalized the top three, we would have had a good shot."
The top four cities -- Davis, Tracy, Chula Vista and Sacramento -- will go on to compete for a grand prize when the contest ends March 31. The grand prize has yet to be determined, however, said Matlock.
But the ultimate prize is not money, Matlock said. It is, she said, raising awareness and staying consistent with improving environmental sustainability and living conditions in a city.
"Our next step is finding that low-hanging fruit, having those conversations with residents about what we can all do to keep (environmental sustainability) going," she said. "We want to be the coolest city."
Contact Katie Nelson at 925-847-2164. Follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210
Think you have what it takes to be part of the "coolest" California city? Visit coolcalifornia.org to learn about the challenge and sign up. You can calculate your carbon footprint and learn about tips and tricks to reduce how much energy or water you use.