battle of the buildings

When Buildings Compete, We All Win

By Administrator Gina McCarthy

On average, Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors. So the buildings where we work, learn, and shop have an important role to play in our wellbeing. At the same time, buildings also contribute to the health of our surrounding environment. In 2015, about 40% of total U.S. energy consumption was consumed in residential and commercial buildings. And commercial buildings are responsible for nearly 20% of our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Improving energy efficiency has proven to be one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways for businesses and organizations to save money, create jobs, and improve employee wellbeing. Plus, facility improvement measures can actually improve employee productivity by creating more comfortable spaces for people to work.

Since 2010, EPA has run the ENERGY STAR® Battle of the Buildings, which enlists interested building owners from across the country to compete in saving energy and water.

Last year, 143 teams – made up of at least five buildings each – along with thousands of individual buildings signed onto the challenge, setting out to slim down their energy and water “wastelines” by making behavioral changes, upgrading inefficient equipment, and optimizing mechanical systems.

The 2015 results are in. All told, last year’s Battle of the Buildings competitors achieved impressive savings, to say the least. More than 60 buildings cut energy use by 20 percent and 40 buildings cut water use by 20 percent or more in just 12 months.

Seven people stand in front of an industrial facility with the Texas A&M logo

Pictured: The Texas A&M University – ESCO Project’s energy management team

GOLD FOR ENERGY: Texas A&M University – ESCO Project,in College Station, improved energy efficiency by 35 percent and saved nearly $550,000 across their six competing buildings. All told, they prevented more than 1,700 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions from the annual energy used by more than 150 homes. The team completed a full lighting retrofit, updated the building automation system, and installed occupancy sensors and a pump variable frequency drive. They maximized savings related to heating and cooling by connecting lighting occupancy sensors to an automation system that controls the HVAC system. They also appointed a full-time team to work closely with students and faculty to ensure comfort while conserving energy.

A large group of standing people.

Pictured: The coaches at Southface Energy Institute who helped Team Boys & Girls Clubs All Stars save energy

GOLD FOR WATER: Team Boys & Girls Clubs All Stars cut water use by more than 50 percent across their 12 competing buildings in seven different states, with help from their “coaches” at the Southface Energy Institute. The biggest savings opportunities came from eliminating water leaks, upgrading plumbing fixtures, securing faucets, and replacing toilets and urinals with low-flow equipment. The Boys & Girls Clubs also switched from potable water to rainwater for some of their educational projects. Today, the building features a new rainwater harvesting system that collects water from the roof of the facility for use in the garden. Savings from reduced water costs have allowed the Boys & Girls Club to allocate more resources toward hiring staff, purchasing program supplies, and fulfilling its mission: “Enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Check out the full list of winners and a wrap-up report with advice and best practices on the competition web page.

Do you have what it takes to join the Battle of the Buildings?

This year, the competition will return as the 2016 ENERGY STAR BOOTCAMP – a 90-day competition to reduce energy and water use in our nation’s buildings. Register to participate in the 2016 ENERGY STAR BOOTCAMP now through July 17, 2016.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Family Dollar Battles to Trim its “Wastelines”

By Carsen Mata

A Family Dollar store at Fulton Street and Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn.

Family Dollar is one of the largest companies participating in this year’s Battle of the Buildings competition. Pictured here: A Family Dollar store at Fulton Street and Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency and ENERGY STAR are winding down their sixth annual Battle of the Buildings competition, as thousands of buildings are battling to see who can reduce their energy and water use the most in 2015, as compared to last year. In their efforts, participants have been retrofitting existing lighting, upgrading equipment, and even suggesting the occupants of their building alter their habits to help fight the cause. Throughout the competition, participants have been tracking their overall progress using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, EPA’s online measurement and tracking tool. This tool measures a building’s monthly energy and water consumption, allowing for each competitor to strategize ways of reducing their emissions. At the end of the 12-month performance period, the team and individual building with the largest percent reductions will be declared winners.

This nationwide competition often garners a lot of attention from a great deal of big names. Companies like Target, Staples, and TD Bank have joined the battle in recent years with successful track records. This year, we’ve been paying close attention to the success stories within EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight tribal nations. In total, the region boasts 178 buildings with 32 coming from 21 different New Jersey cities and 146 from 40 different New York cities. Some of the big names in our area include J.C. Penney, Samsung and Family Dollar Stores.

As most of you know, Family Dollar Stores offers a wide variety of products at affordable price points for families of all types. They provide communities with a mix of merchandise ranging from refrigerated and frozen foods to health and beauty items. Their recent partnership with the Battle of the Buildings competition is quite the story – to date, Family Dollar Stores, Inc. has over 5,500 of its sites benchmarked in the Portfolio Manager tool with more than 7,700 sites registered, making the company one of the largest users ever of the EPA tool.

Family Dollar’s building spectrum registered for the competition includes regular retail locations, distribution centers, and even their store support center. With 19 of their registered sites in Brooklyn, Family Dollar becomes a regional standout.

Commercial buildings in the United States are responsible for 17 percent of the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $175 billion annually. The Battle of the Buildings competition invites corporations and buildings of all sizes to improve the energy efficiency of millions of workplaces. If successful, competitors will ultimately reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, making it one huge fight you won’t want to miss. For more information on previous winners, current competitors and competitor resources visit http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/about-us/how-can-we-help-you/communicate/energy-star-communications-toolkit/motivate-competition-8

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA Unveils the Winner of the National Building Competition!

Battle of the Buildings2

By: Andrea Schnitzer

Have you ever seen the NBC show, The Biggest Loser? It brings together a group of motivated people, who all have one goal in common—a desire to get healthy and lose unneeded weight.  Today, EPA is announcing the winners of the fourth annual EPA ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings, a competition that is inspired by the hit NBC show. But instead of individuals working to lose excess weight, this year-long competition brings together commercial buildings from across the country to see who can reduce the most energy use. Today we are excited to announce this year’s winners and open registration for an exciting new competition year.

The Results are in!

Claiborne Elementary School

Claiborne Elementary School

This year, Claiborne Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, won the competition by cutting its energy use nearly in half!  But this impressive accomplishment only tells part of the story about the more than 3,000 competitors who threw their hats in the ring this year. The top 15 finishers reduced their energy waste by more than 29 percent, and nearly 50 buildings in the competition achieved at least a 20 percent reduction in energy use. In the end, the competitors saved a combined total of more than 130,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and $20 million on utility bills. To see a list of the competitors and their energy savings, go to www.energystar.gov/battleofthebuildings.

Many were winners. Only one was the biggest loser.

Claiborne Elementary School emerged victorious by cutting its energy use by a whopping 46.9 percent in one year. And they did this 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 HVAC 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.

Small changes make a big difference.  

The results aren’t all that different than what we often see on NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Buildings across the nation compete to work off their energy waste with help from ENERGY STAR. At the end, the building that cuts its energy use the most is declared the winner.

And just like on the TV show, there are ups and downs for every building. Sometimes, drastic measures are needed, but often it just takes small changes every day that add up to big savings. Just like it’s not always necessary to take extreme measures to lose weight, buildings don’t always need to implement expensive technology upgrades to start cutting energy use. Likewise, adopting small lifestyle changes like eating healthier and exercising can make all the difference. Changing behaviors, whether it’s by turning off lights that aren’t being used, not heating or cooling empty spaces, and unplugging energy-wasting equipment, can make a huge impact when it’s done regularly and becomes a lifestyle.

Step on the scale. Repeat.

Of course, one of the most important steps in an energy waste-loss program is stepping on the scale. For buildings, that means entering monthly energy data in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, EPA’s energy and water measurement and tracking tool. By continuing to monitor and track the ups and downs of energy and water use, building owners and managers can find out where they stand…and where they need to go.

Join us for the 2014 competition. Register by May 16!

So who really won this year? The short answer: we all did. When buildings use less energy, the plants that power them emit fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in a cleaner, healthier environment for all of us.

Want to be a part of the solution? Ask your management to enter your building in the 2014 competition. This year, compete to win EPA recognition for energy and water savings, or join as part of a team competing against other groups to become the next biggest energy or water saver.

Learn more and register at www.energystar.gov/battleofthebuildings

About the Author: Andrea Schnitzer is a National Program Manager with the ENERGY STAR program for Commercial Buildings and Industrial Plants.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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EPA’s Biggest Energy Loser Wins Big…Can You?

Battle of the BuildingsBy: Alena Hutchinson

A few weeks ago, EPA announced the winners of its 2012 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition. For the third year in a row, we were blown away by the results. Out of more than 3,000 competitors, all of the top 15 finishers reduced their energy waste by more than 30 percent. In addition, more than 85 buildings in the competition had a 20 percent reduction. Altogether, the competitors saved a combined total of more than 3 billion kBtus of energy and $50 million on utility bills.

Many were winners. Only one was the biggest loser.

So, who won? Demarest Elementary School in Bloomfield, NJ, emerged victorious by cutting its energy use by more than half and achieving a whopping 52 percent reduction in one year. And they did it mostly through no- and low-cost changes, like turning off and unplugging equipment when it wasn’t in use and practicing “toast and coast” heating — the turning off of boilers once the building had reached outside temperatures on nice days.

While the big savings numbers always get the most attention, perhaps even more impressive is what the average competitor accomplished. Buildings that reduced their consumption during the competition saved an average of nearly $25,000 and reduced their energy use by 8% from the previous year.

Small changes make a big difference.  

The results aren’t all that different than what we often see on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, which was the inspiration for this competition. Buildings across the nation compete to work off their energy waste with help from ENERGY STAR. At the end, the building that cuts its energy use the most is declared the winner.

And just like on the TV show, there are ups and downs for every building. Sometimes, drastic measures are needed, but often it just takes small changes everyday that add up to big savings. Just like it’s not always necessary to take extreme measures to lose weight, buildings don’t always need to implement expensive technology upgrades to start cutting energy use. Likewise, adopting small lifestyle changes like eating healthier and exercising can make all the difference. Changing behaviors, whether it’s by turning off lights that aren’t being used, not heating or cooling empty spaces, and unplugging energy-wasting equipment, can make a huge impact when it’s done regularly and becomes a lifestyle.

Step on the scale. Repeat.

Of course, one of the most important steps in an energy waste-loss program is stepping on the scale. For buildings, that means entering monthly energy data in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, EPA’s energy measurement and tracking tool. By continuing to monitor and track the ups and downs of energy use, building owners and managers can find out where they stand…and where they need to go.

Join the fun next year. Sign up by May 31!

So who really won this year? The short answer: we all did. When buildings use less energy, the plants that power them emit fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, resulting in a cleaner, healthier environment for all of us.

Want to be a part of the solution? Ask your management to enter your building in the 2013 competition. The fourth season brings all new twists, including new ways to win and more ways to compete. Perhaps the biggest change this year is that tenants can compete! So whether your organization occupies all of a building or part of one, you can compete to become the next biggest energy loser.

Learn more and register at www.energystar.gov/battleofthebuildings

Alena Hutchinson is a member of the Commercial and Industrial Branch for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. 

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Battling through the Summer Heat

Woodbridge Residence Hall, on the corner of Riverside Drive and 115th St., is in the final stretch of an EPA competition to reduce energy use.

By John Martin

When I was a grad student at Columbia University, I spent a lot of time holed up in the Loeb Library reading and writing papers, but I also spent a lot of something else—money. That degree was expensive!  Ten years later, it’s a small consolation to know that some active members of the Columbia community are working to save the school some cash, while helping the environment in the process. More

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.