energy star

Competitors team up to power down in this year’s Energy Star Battle of the Buildings

By Gina McCarthy

What if the key to driving down energy use in commercial buildings came down to one simple idea: Teamwork. We see the power of teamwork all around us. In sports, individuals come together to push each other, help each other, and find out how to work together for the maximum benefit. At work, we achieve more by working together than we could ever achieve alone. So why not take this concept into the realm of commercial building energy use?

This year, as part of the fifth-annual Energy Star Battle of the Buildings, competitors are harnessing the power of teamwork to reach new heights in energy performance. They’ll build on each other’s successes, learn from each other’s mistakes, and together, find new ways to unlock energy savings.

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But how much can one building really save anyway? The answer is, a lot. The buildings we see in our communities every day—offices, schools, hospitals, stores—use nearly 20% of our nation’s energy. And it costs more than $100 billion annually to keep them running. But did you know that the average building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes? People leave lights on. Equipment breaks.
Filters go unchanged for months, or years.

That’s about to change for the more than 100 teams and their respective buildings that are participating in this year’s competition. With a little competitive spirit and a lot of teamwork, these buildings are knocking down barriers and building momentum for positive change. See who’s competing near year, watch their progress, and share the excitement at www.energystar.gov/battleofthebuildings.

In the only coast-to-coast competition of its kind, dozens of different types of commercial buildings are facing off in this year’s Energy Star Battle of the Buildings. This year’s theme, “Team Challenge,” features teams of five or more buildings who will work together to reduce their collective energy use as much as possible over the course of a year. For example, “Team Staples” includes 17 Staples stores, while 15 Whole Foods stores will support each other as part of “Team Whole Foods Market.” In a county outside Wilmington, Del., 13 elementary schools will compete as part of a team, and they’re going up against their county’s five middle schools and six high schools. In Hillsborough Country, Fla., fire stations will team up to compete against libraries.

Competitors will measure and track their building’s monthly energy consumption using EPA’s Energy Star online energy measurement and tracking tool, Portfolio Manager. Over the course of the competition, building teams will work to optimize or upgrade equipment, retrofit lighting, and change occupants’ behaviors—all with help from Energy Star. The team that reduces its buildings’ average energy use the most, on a percentage basis, over a 12-month performance period, will be declared the winner. 700 buildings are also competing in a special water reduction category, and will work with EPA’s WaterSense program to apply best practices for commercial building water management.

EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, featuring a list of the competitors and their starting, midpoint, and final standings, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress and an interactive map of the competitor’s locations. Midpoint results will be posted in October, with the winner announced in April 2015.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.5 billion sold over the past 20 years. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 buildings have earned the Energy Star label.

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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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Top 5 Ways to Chill out this Summer with ENERGY STAR

By: Brittney Gordon

Even when the temperature goes up, your utility bills can still stay low. With help from ENERGY STAR you can keep your cool, tame those bills, and help fight climate change. The secret is to keep your cooling system from working too hard. Discover these Top 5 Ways to Chill Out with ENERGY STAR, so that you and your cooling system can both enjoy the summer!

1. Keep the heat out

Insulation_graphic (1)

Take advantage of shades, blinds, curtains, awnings and even trees to  keep the sun out during the day, especially on the south and west side of your house. If you are upgrading your windows, consider ENERGY STAR certified windows, which will keep even more heat out. Find and seal leaks (the biggest ones are in your attic and basement) – this will also help reduce humidity and keep out pests and pollen.  Consider adding attic insulation so less heat radiates down into your house from your hot attic.  Sealing air leaks and improving your home’s insulation could save you up to $200 a year in cooling/heating costs (or about 10 percent of your annual energy bill).  Finally, if you’re replacing your roof, you can reduce the effects of the hot sun by installing ENERGY STAR certified roof products.

2. Keep the cool in

Seal and Insulate 2

You’re paying for your AC’s cool air, so don’t let it leak out of your ducts before it gets to the vent and the rooms you want to cool. That’s YOUR air!  In most homes, 25 percent of air that flows through air conditioning ducts leaks out before it gets to you. So get a contractor to test your ducts, seal them, and insulate them so you’re not paying for cool air you don’t get to use. You could reduce your cooling energy bill by about 20 percent.

3. Maintain Your Cooling System

Thermostat

A simple tune up of your HVAC equipment can do wonders.  Make sure you also change your air filter regularly – EPA recommends every three months at a minimum.   And, if you do not have a programmable thermostat – install one and program it around your family’s summer schedule. Setting the thermostat up by seven degrees when you’re away from home and up by four degrees when you’re asleep can save more than $180 a year.

4. Be a fan of fans

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If you raise your thermostat by only two degrees and use your ceiling fan instead, you can lower cooling costs by up to 14 percent. Use bedroom fans on those cooler summer nights when you might be able to turn off your central air conditioning and naturally cool your home for a lot less. Plus, don’t forget to use your ENERGY STAR certified vent fans to get rid of that unwanted humid air in your bathroom after a shower.

5. Look for the ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR Logo

If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your cooling costs by 30 percent. In the market for a new room air conditioner? Find one that has earned the ENERGY STAR and use about 15 percent less energy. ENERGY STAR certified dehumidifiers also use 15 percent less energy than a conventional unit.  One last easy tip is to change out those old, hot, incandescent bulbs with ENERGY STAR certified CFL and LED bulbs–they produce 75% less heat!

Looking for more great tips? Head to www.energystar.gov/cooling.

About the Author: Brittney Gordon-Williams works on the ENERGY STAR communication’s team. Her summer cooling project will involve trying out ENERGY STAR certified LEDs in her new home.

 

 

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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Making copies the Energy Efficient Way

Imaging

By: Chris Kent

Pop quiz: Does your home/office imaging equipment (printer, copier, scanner, etc.) have the ENERGY STAR label? If it does, consider yourself a very smart shopper. On average, imaging equipment that is ENERGY STAR certified is 40 – 55 percent more efficient than a standard model. From copiers and printers, to fax machines and scanners, imaging equipment accounts for some of the first products to ever earn the ENERGY STAR label. As these products grow in use in homes and offices across the country, EPA’s ENERGY STAR program continues to make strides in making them more energy efficient.

Through the years, EPA has strengthened the energy efficiency requirements so that models meeting the latest requirements will be more energy efficient than ever. Now, by meeting requirements to enter low-power “sleep” modes when inactive, and using efficient power supplies, an ENERGY STAR certified copier saves energy when it is in use AND when it is not.

Looking for ways to cut down your imaging costs even more? Consider purchasing an all-in-one device the next time you are in the market. An all-in-one device (or multifunction device) that meets ENERGY STAR requirements can result in significant energy and paper savings for businesses.  The multifunction device typically performs two or more functions (scan, copy, print, fax) housed within one unit.  By comparison, with single-function devices every piece of networked equipment uses electricity, even when it is not in use.  But by combining these functions into one device, you can save on electricity costs by reducing the number of devices into one integrated unit.  Also, these multifunction devices are where industry is incorporating innovative energy saving technologies, so despite having multiple functions, a multifunction device may actually use less energy than a comparable single function unit.

If your printer/copier/multifunction device is older than 5 years, it is likely that your printer’s energy consumption is about 50% higher than a new machine.  Industry continues to make great strides in improving the energy performance of imaging equipment and ENERGY STAR continues to revise its requirements to recognize these top performers.

Some features that save on energy, paper and ink costs include:

  • Sleep mode and automatic shut off: ENERGY STAR products are required to automatically go into a reduced power state after a specified period of inactivity.  This provides great energy savings.
  • Automatic double-sided printing/duplexing: Automatically setting a printer or multifunction device to print double sided saves up to 50% of your paper usage.  Printer and multifunction devices that can produce images on both sides of the paper by automatically flipping the paper make it easier to produce a double-sided page, which cuts down on paper use.  Paper is the largest energy impact associated with printing, and in most cases, making this change does not cost anything additional.
  • Various quality settings: Many units have more than one quality setting and using a lower quality or draft mode when printing draft or internal documents can save ink.
  • Color vs Monochromatic: Printing in color generally does not use any additional energy than printing in monochromatic. But you can spend more on ink depending on the machine you choose. Units that use one cartridge for all colors tend to waste more ink than units with individual color cartridges. This is because colors are used at different rates, but the cartridge must be replaced once any one color has run out.

When looking to buy a new printer or multifunction device, go the ENERGY STAR Imaging Equipment product finder to find the right product for your needs.   And remember, think before printing.

Chris Kent

About the Author: Chris Kent has worked at EPA for 25 years and for the last 7 years has been the product lead for the ENERGY STAR imaging product development. 

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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Setting the Record Straight on the Chamber of Commerce’s Report

Today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a report that makes unfounded assumptions about the EPA’s upcoming proposal for commonsense standards to cut the harmful carbon pollution from power plants.

First, before EPA even put pen to paper to draft the proposed standards, we gathered an unprecedented amount of input and advice through hundreds of meetings with hundreds of groups—including many members of the Chamber.  That input fed into the draft proposal we’ll release on June 2, and we plan to kick off a second phase of engagement as we work through the draft and get to a reasonable, meaningful final rule.

Second—the Chamber’s report is nothing more than irresponsible speculation based on guesses of what our draft proposal will be.  Just to be clear—it’s not out yet. I strongly suggest that folks read the proposal before they cry the sky is falling. More

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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In Communities across America, Buildings Save Money and Cut Carbon Pollution with Energy Star

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.

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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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Earth Month Tip: Try Energy Star's Home Energy Yardstick

Energy Star’s Home Energy Yardstick provides a simple assessment of your home’s annual energy use compared to similar homes. Plug in a few details about your home to get your home’s energy score and learn how to improve your score and cut carbon pollution.

By answering a few basic questions about your home, you can learn:

  • Your home’s Home Energy Yardstick score (on a scale of 1 to 10);
  • Insights into how much of your home’s energy use is related to heating and cooling versus other everyday uses like appliances, lighting, and hot water;
  • Links to guidance from Energy Star on how to increase your home’s score, improve comfort, and lower utility bills; and
  • An estimate of your home’s annual carbon emissions.

With recommendations from Energy Star, you can save as much as 20% annually on your energy bills and cut carbon pollution.

Learn more: https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=HOME_ENERGY_YARDSTICK.showGetStarted

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Celebrate Earth Day with ENERGY STAR!

Earth Day graphic

By: Brittney Gordon-Williams

Earth Day is here and people across the country are taking a few minutes out of their day to do something good for planet earth. What are your plans? We may be a bit biased, but here at ENERGY STAR we would love for you to make protecting the environment from climate change part of your Earth Day resolutions. Preventing climate change may sound like a tall order, but we’re here to show you how easy it can be to make a difference. And did we mention that it will also help you save money?  I think we now have your full attention. Check out our list of no-cost to low cost ways to save energy at home and at work this Earth Day!

ENERGY STAR’s Earth Day and Beyond Checklist

1.)    ENERGY STAR Lighting- Purchase an ENERGY STAR certified LED! This is one of the easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient. ENERGY STAR certified LEDs use 70-90% less energy and last 25x longer than your old incandescent bulbs. With the prices dropping fast, this is the perfect time to try out the light bulb of the future! Need help picking one out? Check out this video.

2.)    Computer Power Management– Are you reading this on your computer? Have you programmed that computer to go into sleep mode when you are away? Enabling your ENERGY STAR certified computer/monitor’s power management features can save you up to $90 a year.

3.)    HVAC Maintenance– Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it. At a minimum, change the filter every 3 months. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool — wasting energy.

4.)    Build Your Team– You can also “Bring Your Green” to work! Create a Green Team with your co-workers, help build support for energy efficiency in your workplace, and reduce office waste. Set a goal to certify your building as ENERGY STAR.

5.)    Inspire Your Friends– The only thing better than saving energy yourself is inspiring your friends to do it with you. Share this infographic in social media and encourage your friends to get with the energy-saving program!

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It’s pretty amazing that simple changes like these can make a big difference in reducing carbon pollution in our environment, helping to stop further climate change. Need some assistance on your energy-saving journey? Take the ENERGY STAR Pledge and let EPA show you how simple it can be to save energy, save money and protect the environment. Try it out today and make this Earth Day the best one yet.

About the Author: Brittney Gordon-Williams is a member of the communications team at EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. This Earth Day she plans on purchasing an ENERGY STAR certified LED bulb.  

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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Earth Month Tip: Spread the word

Happy Earth Day!

One of the most powerful things you can do to act on climate is talk to your friends and neighbors about the challenge we face. This Earth Day, talk to five about climate action.

Why five? If five of your friends, for example, replaced five 60-watt light bulbs with 13-watt Energy Star bulbs, it would save over 50,000 pounds of carbon pollution over the life of the bulb. That’s equivalent to one of the following:

a)  the annual carbon pollution from 5 passenger vehicles
b) the carbon pollution associated with 2,780 gallons of gasoline
c)  3.4 homes’ electricity use for one year

Small changes make a big difference. Tell friends to visit epa.gov/earthday to learn more about reducing carbon pollution.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

 

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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Earth Month Tip: Check Out Energy Star’s Save Energy at Home tool to save money and reduce carbon pollution

Energy Star’s Save Energy at Home Tool can guide you in making your home more energy efficient — whether you do it yourself or hire a qualified professional. The online tool has tips for saving energy all around your home and targets each room individually.
Remember, when you save energy, you’re saving money and cutting carbon pollution.

Try the tool: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=popuptool.atHome 

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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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