energy

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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Earth Month Tip: Run your dishwasher with a full load only

Make the most efficient use of your dishwasher’s energy and water consumption and run the dishwasher only when you have enough dirty dishes accumulated for a full load. Running your dishwasher with a full load only can prevent100 pounds of carbon pollution and save $40 on energy bills annually. Using the air-dry option, if available, helps too.

In addition, you can save water and energy by scraping dishes instead of rinsing them before loading the dishwasher. Most dishwashers today can thoroughly clean dishes that have had food scraped, rather than rinsed, off — the wash cycle and detergent take care of the rest.

 

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: Try a programmable thermostat

Heating and cooling accounts for almost half your energy bill – about $1,000 a year! A programmable thermostat is one of the easiest ways you can save energy in your home and help reduce carbon pollution. An Energy Star qualified programmable thermostat helps make it easy for you to save by offering four pre-programmed settings to regulate your home’s temperature in both summer and winter – when you are asleep or away.

Learn more about saving energy at home: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_save_energy_at_home

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: Think about the life cycle

Forty two percent of carbon pollution emissions in the U.S. are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transport, and dispose of the food we eat and the goods we use. In every one of these stages of the life cycle, we can reduce our impact.

Find out what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and learn how to reduce your impact at every stage of the life cycle.

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: Recycle used electronics

Electronic products are made from valuable resources and materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Donating or recycling used electronics conserves our natural resources, prevents air and water pollution, and reduces carbon pollution associated with manufacturing.

Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. You can search below to find programs developed by Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants.

Learn more about recycling used electronics: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/donate.htm

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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The Amazing LED

Danny Orlando LED

Danny Orlando LED 2

By: Danny Orlando

It’s amazing how many light fixtures we have in our homes.  According to a December 2012 Residential End-Use Consumption Study by the Department of Energy, U. S. homes range from 50-80 light fixtures.  Changing all of those lights to LED technology is a daunting and expensive undertaking, but it is a worthwhile effort.  Here is why:

LED lighting prices are coming down and are now usually between $10 and $25 dollars each.   And, in some locations there are utility incentives that drive down the price even lower.  Switching over to ENERGY STAR certified LEDs is best achieved one lamp at a time.  One tactic is to buy one light per month and before you know it, you’ve achieved your goal!

You should look for ENERGY STAR certified LED lights because these have been tested by a third-party to assure they meet a range of quality criteria.  Also, pay close attention to the color temperature of the light that you are choosing.  The color temperature is listed on the ‘nutrition’ label on the package.  If you want the familiar glow of an incandescent, look for a color temperature at or below 3000 K. The good news is that everything you need to know is right on the package.

I’m an avowed energy nerd, so I’ve actually counted the light fixtures in my home. My home has 37 light fixtures and seven track light fixtures.  Since I work in the field of energy efficiency, I am an early adopter and have changed 83 percent of the fixtures to LED lights.  I have been able to find LEDs for every variety of fixtures.  One interesting usage is in my stove hood which uses a Par20 lamp.  Usually, this would be a poor location for LEDs because of the hot stove surface as heat is the enemy of LEDs.   But, so far, the LED lamps have lasted for years.

Track light fixtures that use four 50-watt lights (MR-16) are not an energy efficient choice for lighting, but mine are rarely used, and the ones that are used more frequently are controlled by occupancy sensors.  There is one track, however, that is on eight hours each day.  On a recent trip to the home improvement store, I found LED replacement lamps for this fixture, but they were $30 each.  To retrofit this fixture would cost more than the fixture itself, so I returned home empty handed.  But, then I decided to perform the calculations and see if purchasing the LED replacement lamps would make sense.  The results were astounding.  Because of the amount of hours this fixture is on, the payback was about two years and I would save 550 kilowatt-hours each year!  To state that another way, four LED lights eliminated my November electricity bill – forever.  Needless to say, I returned to the store and made the purchase.   I have a few more steps to take to be completely LED, but I only have four fluorescents left to replace.  Although utility costs in my area have increased 60 percent in the last 20 years, my costs have increased only one percent because of consistent energy efficient choices!

It’s amazing to realize we are at a time when our children won’t know what changing a light bulb means.  My kids asked me, “How long do LEDs last?”   And I answered, “I’ll put them in my will for you”.  Now, if you move to a new home, not only will you take your furniture, refrigerator, and clothes, but you’ll also pack up your amazing LED lights.

About the Author: Danny Orlando is the Regional Energy Star Program manager in EPA’s Atlanta office and has been promoting and implementing Energy Star both at work and at home for 21 years.

 

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: Take a shower

Try a short shower instead of a bath. Taking a shower uses much less water than filling up a bathtub. In fact, a shower only uses 10 to 25 gallons of water, while a bath uses up to 70 gallons! To save even more water and energy, keep your shower under five minutes long —try timing yourself next time you hop in!

Learn more: http://www.epa.gov/greenhomes/ConserveWater.htm

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: Calculate your household’s carbon footprint & get tips on reducing carbon pollution

Use EPA’s Household Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator to estimate your household greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use, transportation, and waste disposal. This tool helps you understand where your emissions come from and identify ways to reduce them. The link below will get you started on the right path!

http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html

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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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: Caulk and Weather-strip Around Windows and Doors in Your Home

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Sealing air leaks around your home and adding insulation can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient while preventing carbon pollution. These simple fixes can provide up to a 10% savings on your annual energy bills. Simple jobs include installing weather stripping on doors and caulking around windows, while bigger jobs might include sealing leaks and adding insulation in your attic.

actonclimate5

Learn more: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_sealing&s=footer

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.

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.