Award Recipient Evergreen Public Schools with EPA's Director of the Climate Protection Partnership Division, Elizabeth Craig

By: Brittney Gordon

From the moment I came to EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, I could tell that the annual announcement of the ENERGY STAR Awards was a BIG deal. Every year EPA honors organizations that have made outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR’s partners in industry work hard all year long to educate consumers about making energy-efficient purchases and decisions, and hundreds of them submit applications to receive a coveted ENERGY STAR award. This year I was chosen to coordinate the ENERGY STAR awards, and after months of reviewing applications and debating their merits, I have definitely learned a few things along the way.

1.)    ENERGY STAR partners are truly leading the way in the energy-efficiency movement. Across the country, ENERGY STAR has over 18,000 partners, and this year 119 won an ENERGY STAR award for their efforts in protecting the environment. I work with ENERGY STAR partners every day in my normal capacity, but coordinating the ENERGY STAR awards showed me a totally different side to the work they do. ENERGY STAR may be a government program, but it would not be successful without the daily work put in by partners across the nation. From new home builders and home energy raters to commercial building owners and product manufacturers, our partners are leading the way in helping Americans to protect the climate by becoming more energy efficient. They have invested their time and their resources to put energy efficiency near the top of their priority list, and American consumers—and our environment—are the beneficiaries. After reading about the work done by these organizations, I will look at my next purchase in a totally different way, as I now understand just how much effort it takes for them to help all of us become more energy efficient. This year’s recipient list reads like a “who’s-who” of the business world, and included names like The Home Depot, Hanesbrands, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Food Lion, USAA Real Estate, Samsung, and Toyota.

2.)    The ENERGY STAR Awards are REALLY important to businesses across the country. From the moment I took on coordinating the ENERGY STAR awards, it became clear that EPA’s partners hold them in high regard. These organizations put in a lot of effort to make this country more efficient, and they look at these awards as acknowledgement for a job well done. As EPA staff members reached out to partners with the good news of their award, you could literally feel their excitement over the phone. Within days those partners began producing press releases and marketing campaigns to tell the world about this honor. With 85 percent of Americans recognizing the ENERGY STAR label, they know just how powerful that little blue label is, and they want consumers to know that they are being recognized as one of the best-of-the-best when it comes to energy efficiency and protecting the environment. Perhaps even more importantly, winning the award also helps them with internal acknowledgment for their work and can result in greater support for sustainability efforts.

3.)    The announcement of the ENERGY STAR Awards is important in the movement to better protect the environment from climate change. Just as I learned that winning an ENERGY STAR award can put a company on cloud nine, I also learned that not winning can inspire other partners to work even harder to help Americans save energy. EPA received hundreds of applications this year and of course, they did not all get selected. But the first thing non-winners do is reach out to EPA to find out what they need to do to become a more powerful contender in 2014. These awards prove to be an incentive for protecting the environment year after year—and that is something to celebrate.

Brittney Gordon is a member of the ENERGY STAR communication’s team and this year served as the ENERGY STAR awards coordinator. For a complete listing of winners, click here.

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