Did you know that the energy used in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions? That adds up to more than $100 billion in energy costs per year! More companies across America are recognizing that energy efficiency is a simple and effective way to save money and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. With help from Energy Star, facility owners and managers are improving the energy efficiency of their buildings and businesses, while at the same time increasing their property value, providing better service, and making their communities more desirable places to live. In fact, since 1999, ENERGY STAR certified buildings have saved more than $3.1 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use from 2.2 million homes.
April is Earth Month, a great time to showcase the importance of energy-efficient buildings by announcing EPA’s Top Cities for Energy Star certified buildings and the winners of our annual National Building Competition.
First, EPA has released the annual ranking of the top 25 cities with most Energy Star certified buildings – with Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Atlanta topping the list. Compared to a typical building, Energy Star certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy, which means that they also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent. That adds up to big savings – and pollution reductions. These organizations’ participation in Energy Star, and the total energy and money savings, demonstrate their strong commitment to combat the impacts of a changing climate and continue to impress me each year. Find out if your city is listed on the top 25: http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/topcities.
Second, Energy Star unleashed the competitive spirit to motivate contestants in the annual Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. Over 3,000 commercial buildings entered the year-long competition to find out who could reduce their energy use the most. All the energy savings from this competition prevented 130,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and saved $20 million on utility bills. The top 15 finishers all reduced their energy use by at least 29 percent, and nearly 50 buildings in the competition achieved a 20-percent reduction in energy use.
Claiborne Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana won first place by cutting its energy use nearly in half! How did Claiborne Elementary School win among over 3,000 competitors? Largely through low and no cost efforts, like educating students and teachers about the actions they can take every day to save energy. This included adjusting thermostats, keeping doors and windows closed when the heat or air conditioning is on, turning off lights, and making sure electronic devices are turned off at the end of each day. The school also fine-tuned automated controls of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and lighting systems, making sure that lights were turned off in unoccupied areas and that the heating and cooling systems were optimized to run only when necessary. To see a list of the competitors and their energy savings, go to www.energystar.gov/battleofthebuildings.
Congratulations to the Top Cities and to this year’s Battle of the Buildings contestants! The significant reductions in greenhouse gas pollution and energy costs are a win-win for the environment, the buildings, and especially the people and communities who rely on them. You can also be part of the team to save energy, improve comfort and help protect the environment. Here are some simple tips and tools you can do at home: www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home.