Philadelphia is the latest city to embrace a U.S. Department of Energy challenge to cut energy use in public buildings by 20% in 10 years.
State governments in Delaware and Maryland already participate in the Better Building Challenge, as do El Paso, Orlando, San Diego, Spokane and 190 other states, cities, school districts, and corporations.
Philadelphia has turned the challenge into a race: The three buildings that cut energy use the most—at least 5%— within one year will win $5,000 each.
The challenge has created an opportunity for commercial contractors specializing in making energy-efficiency improvements to HVAC systems, lighting, and windows. "Believe me, if you're ahead of the curve, there is no better feeling that everyone catching up to you," Philly mayor Michael Nutter said on Tuesday.