Energy performance specification for designing and operating buildings to achieve ENERGY STAR

The following specification is to indicate that a design project or an existing building meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) energy performance criteria to achieve EPA’s ENERGY STAR. The design may be eligible to receive the Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR designation, which denotes that the energy use of the future building is intended to be in the top 25 percent as compared to similar buildings nationwide. Once the design project is built and in operation for at least one year, it may be eligible to be certified as ENERGY STAR.

The architect of record (AOR) can apply to for Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR recognition from EPA for a specific project. The AOR must demonstrate that the final estimate of the building’s energy use corresponds to an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or better using EPA’s 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score from the online Target Finder tool.

Specifying the 2030 Challenge Goal. Target Finder may also be used to confirm that a design project meets energy reduction goals specified in the 2030 Challenge. Projects that meet a 50-percent energy reduction (from an average building) or greater typically exceed EPA’s performance threshold for superior energy performance (an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher); therefore, EPA encourages setting the target for commercial new construction projects at a level greater than 75. The language can be adapted to specify meeting both the 2030 goal and ENERGY STAR.

The 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score is derived from fuel consumption data of existing commercial buildings, which includes the total energy use associated with the buildings. Design energy targets must include all fuel sources and total estimated energy use for the building design. An incomplete design energy use profile could result in a high, but inaccurate, ENERGY STAR score. Gaps in energy analysis must be addressed in order for the ENERGY STAR score to be a useful indicator of future performance.

The building owner can apply for ENERGY STAR certification by demonstrating that, after at least one year of operation, the building: (1) achieves an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or greater using EPA’s online Portfolio Manager tool based on actual energy consumption from utility bills; and (2) meets specific indoor environmental quality standards.

Instructions for using this document

This document may be modified to suit various conditions. A client may use it in a request for proposal or may incorporate it in the contractual arrangement between the client and architecture firm, construction documents, and/or in a lease agreement. The specification includes language for both building design and the occupied building.

Use the document to state energy goals in construction documents, and include the language in the Supplementary General Conditions Section.

Including this building energy performance specification signals a commitment to design, build, and operate a building with superior energy performance — one whose energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and costs-to-operate are lower than 75 percent of comparable buildings nationwide.

Recommended designer scope of work or request for proposal language

Pre-design or programming phase

The designer shall assist the owner in developing a scope of work, project budget and schedule; assemble a multi-disciplinary team to execute an integrated design approach; and establish an energy performance target that exceeds the ENERGY STAR score of 75, generated by EPA’s Target Finder. All references to the use of the ENERGY STAR score and Target Finder are dependent on the building being one of the property types eligible to earn a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score. The design team shall conduct a comprehensive charrette to address architecture, energy, and environmental issues.

Schematic design phase

Design team members shall explore strategies to achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or greater.

Design development

Design team members shall fine tune original design strategies and methodologies. Energy performance shall be adjusted and evaluated using EPA’s Target Finder to achieve the ENERGY STAR score of 75 or greater during design development.

Construction documents

Design team members shall fully develop and document energy performance strategies and methodologies for the project. The design team shall review progress and adjust strategies and systems to meet or exceed ENERGY STAR criteria for building design.

Specification content: The specifications in the Project Manual shall include and reference the “Statement of Energy Design Intent,” generated from EPA’s Portfolio Manager, at completion construction documents. A copy of the original Statement of Energy Design Intent shall be included and sealed by a licensed architect or engineer as evidence in the application to EPA, showing that the energy design intent meets or exceeds ENERGY STAR performance levels.

The AOR shall apply for the Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR graphic. This graphic shall be affixed in the drawing’s title block and may also be affixed to other related construction documents for the specified project.

Recommended specification language

Summary, administration, or supplementary general conditions section

This project is designed to achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or greater. The designer has filed a Statement of Energy Design Intent, generated from Portfolio Manager, with the EPA. The contractor shall adhere to products, methods, and quality levels specified in the construction documents. Any proposed substitutions must be submitted according to the procedures defined herein. Substitutions that may alter the energy performance goals of the project will not be approved. No substitutions are permitted without approval of the design team.

Commissioning or administration section

The owner has employed a commissioning agent (independent of the design team) that shall provide documented confirmation that building systems function in compliance with energy performance goals set forth in the project documents to satisfy the owner's operational needs. The commissioning agent shall perform tests and document procedures necessary to verify compliance with intended operation of specified systems. The commissioning responsibilities are indicated within the drawings and individual specification sections.

The commissioning agent shall measure and track actual energy consumption of the building’s systems to determine if energy performance goals are being achieved and maintained. The contractor will make needed adjustments and corrections prior to expiration of the warranty period.

Post occupancy

ENERGY STAR certification shall be achieved within 14 months of reaching 95 percent occupancy if the building is one of the property types eligible to earn a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score. The building’s annual energy use shall be benchmarked against its peers using Portfolio Manager. A copy of the original “Statement of Energy Performance” shall be included and sealed by a professional engineer or registered architect as evidence in the application to EPA, showing that the energy performance meets or exceeds ENERGY STAR performance levels.