PHILADELPHIA, PA — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Rebuild America program recently sponsored the first Philadelphia Cooling Workshop. The workshop, presented by DOE’s Philadelphia regional office, the city of Philadelphia's Municipal Energy Office, and Solutions for Progress, was designed to address the needs of Philadelphia row home residents and is a stepping-stone for producing a nationally replicable strategy to increase energy efficiency up to 35% in row homes across the country.

“Through the Rebuild America program, many communities and businesses are saving energy dollars and reinvesting in their communities by improving buildings and stimulating the local economy,” stated Ellen Lutz, director of DOE’s Philadelphia regional office. “The city of Philadelphia, through the Municipal Energy Office, is one of the region's Rebuild America partnerships that is investing in their community and the people who live in it.”

Philadelphia's older, urban row homes, many dating back to the early 1900's, trap heat and humidity during the summer, creating an uncomfortable “urban heat island” that is an energy drain as well as a health threat for some residents. The cooling workshop was designed to spur reinvestment of homeowners’ energy savings, provide business opportunities for local contractors, raise the overall value of the home, and create a healthier environment.

Row homeowners that are most affected by the nationally increasing costs of energy are low- and moderate-income residents. In 2000, low-income residential consumers spent 19% of their income on energy, up from 14% in 1999.

Moderate-income households can also face budget pressures due to their energy bills, but they are ineligible for assistance. “These are the people that make too much money to qualify for government assistance with their utility bills and too little to implement energy and water conservation improvements that don't offer quick cash savings in their monthly bill,” said Robert Brand, president of Solutions for Progress.

“These are the very people least able to pay more than necessary for energy and water use. Yet they do. We can change that,” noted Brand.

Publication date: 05/06/2002