The 2012 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: It’s On!

Today, nearly 3,300 buildings are stepping on the scale and kicking off a national competition to see who can reduce their energy waste the most. That’s right – EPA’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings is back and bigger than ever! Now in its third year, the competition pits buildings across the country against each other in a “Biggest Loser”-style battle to work off their extra energy and water “weight” through efficiency improvements.

The weight-loss analogy has always worked well for this competition since the steps involved in healthy weight-loss are the same steps as those to strategically work off energy waste. Competitors measure their starting weight, set goals, make improvements following a strategic approach (not a crash diet), regularly weigh-in throughout their journey, and celebrate successes. On average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted, which leaves plenty of opportunities for savings.

This year’s participants also come in all shapes and sizes. They represent more than 30 different types of buildings — including retail stores, schools, hotels, and even baseball stadiums — and hail from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition includes a strong showing of buildings from the public sector, including nearly 600 federal buildings, nearly 300 state and local government buildings, 225 public schools, and four buildings owned by the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. The competitors also include a Kmart store on the island of St. Thomas and crime lab in Phoenix.

Of the initial pool of nearly 3,300 competitors, the building that demonstrates the greatest percentage-based reduction in energy use intensity will be crowned as the winner in April 2013. In addition, the competition will recognize the top finishers by building type, as well as all buildings that reduce their energy use by more than 20 percent.  And, for the first time, ENERGY STAR is partnering with EPA’s WaterSense program to recognize the buildings that achieve the largest water use reductions. The 245 buildings in the 2011 competition saved a total of more than 240 million kBtus of energy and $5.2 million on annual utility bills. Given that there are 13 times more competitors this year, the final savings should be enormous!

Visit www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings to follow the efforts of the buildings throughout the year. The competition site features an interactive map to find buildings near you, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress, and a user-generated photo stream where competitors will upload pictures of their energy- and water-saving efforts.

Good luck to all of the competitors, and may the best building win!

Alena Hutchison works for the Commercial and Industrial Buildings Branch for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

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