New Web Site Challenges Homeowners to Go Green

Pushing Green poses challenges for homeowners who compete to have the highest "green rating" and to win a month free of energy bills.

A new Web site does more than encourage homeowners to engage in environmentally friendly practices-it challenges them.

Pushing Green-which is based in San Diego but operates a satellite office in the Twin Cities area that serves as a headquarters for the company's sales and marketing efforts-launched about three weeks ago.

It has since picked up steam with roughly 3,000 households engaged with its program and 20,000 Facebook fans. According to founder Shaun Collopy, about 100 of those households are in Minnesota, making it one of the company's largest markets.

Collopy said in a Thursday phone interview that the company “definitely plans to expand” its presence in Minnesota. The Minneapolis office currently employs two people, but depending on the company's success, Collopy said he hopes to expand the office to 10 people in the near term and continue to grow.

The Web site fosters competition among households to see which can reduce energy use and save the most money through a variety of tasks-ranging from small fixes like using energy-efficient light bulbs to larger projects such as installing solar panels.

Examples of current challenges include reducing the temperature of a home's water heater, cleaning heaters to remove obstructions and maximize efficiency, and opting for drying racks rather than a clothes dryer, among a long list of other tasks.

The entrepreneurs behind Pushing Green say they “recognized that homeowners would only adopt a green lifestyle if they were directly challenged or embarrassed enough to want to keep up with their neighbors.”

The Web site provides an interactive map that displays a competitor's home and its “green rating”-which denotes that household's energy efficiency. The prize: Pushing Green pays the winner's energy bills for a month.

The Web site offers community forums through which users can share their experiences. It also features a directory of products that can be used to make a home more energy efficient. Pushing Green then tracks the cumulative dollars saved through people participating in its challenges-and the site on Wednesday said that roughly $218,000 has been saved by participants in Pushing Green challenges.

To monetize the site, the company sells advertising, as well as sponsorships for individual challenges. Pushing Green also partners with solar installers and builders and other green companies-and according to Collopy, the company has made key relationships with Minnesota solar installers, to which Pushing Green directs its users who are in need of services.