On November 2, EPA announced the University of Central Florida's (UCF) Parking Garage C as the winner of the 2011 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings. In the spirit of popular weight-loss competitions, teams from 245 buildings across the country battled it out to see who could reduce their energy use the most; but in the end, only one was left standing.
The starting "weight" of the competitors varied greatly. Some buildings were significantly "overweight" and using a great deal of energy while others were already performing better than the average building. By the end of the competition, 37 percent of eligible competitors had earned the ENERGY STAR! From improvements in operations and maintenance to upgrades in equipment and technology, the competitors saved a combined total of more than 240 million kBtus of energy and $5.2 million on utility bills annually—real savings that can help improve the bottom line. Competitors also reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 3,600 homes.
UCF reduced their energy use intensity (EUI) more than 63 percent by conducting an extensive lighting retrofit. UCF's improvements demonstrate that significant opportunities exist to save energy in structures that are largely unoccupied, such as parking garages and warehouses, because of the sheer number of these facilities and their associated carbon emissions.
Visit www.energystar.gov/battleofthebuildings to read more about the competition and get ideas for energy-saving measures to implement in your own buildings.
During the spring of 2013, EPA will release a completely new and redesigned upgrade for its popular Portfolio Manager tool. This tool, currently in use by more than 40,000 users to measure, track, assess, and report on the energy performance of more than 250,000 commercial buildings, will get the full treatment: a new interface, streamlined functionality, and improved usability.
EPA will be upgrading all the back-end systems (database architecture, system processing, etc.) as well as the front-end user experience. A better, more intuitive user interface and a new platform for automated benchmarking services will meet many users' requests for an experience more like the popular "Turbo-Tax" software tool.
To learn more, visit www.energystar.gov/PMupgrade. There you'll find upcoming informational webinars, fact sheets, and FAQs.
A new report by Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation and Living Cities examines nearly 19,000 affordable housing units in New York City that were recently retrofitted for energy efficiency. The results provide actual, measurable savings: across all the buildings, fuel consumption dropped by 19 percent and electricity use dropped by 10 percent. On average, each retrofitted apartment unit is saving $310 every year.
The data is made possible through a project, begun in late 2010, called the Deutsche Bank/Living Cities Building Energy Efficiency Data Report. Essentially a public database of retrofitted buildings in New York City, the project's aim is to supply building owners, managers, and lenders with information about how much money can be saved through retrofits.
To learn more, read the full New York Times article at Study Clarifies the Energy Savings in Retrofitted Buildings .
To estimate savings for your own buildings projects, use our ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Value Calculator or Financial Value Calculator . Then use Portfolio Manager to track your savings over time.
As the value and importance of energy performance benchmarking is becoming more widely understood—whether through state and local benchmarking mandates, voluntary benchmarking competitions, or other initiatives—more and more utility companies are stepping up to provide the benchmarking assistance that their commercial building customers are seeking. By making it easier for customers to enter information into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, utilities are helping commercial building owners and operators to quickly assess energy performance across their portfolios and to target energy management resources where they can achieve the greatest energy savings.
Perhaps the clearest example of benchmarking support can be found among utilities that have built Automated Benchmarking solutions to deliver customer billing data directly into Portfolio Manager. Also important are the numerous utilities and regional energy efficiency program sponsors (EEPS) helping customers get the most out of Portfolio Manager via dedicated training, technical support, and/or facilitated access to the whole-building energy data necessary to properly benchmark. This last item in particular has become extremely important in a number of cases, because owners and managers of multi-tenant properties often have difficulty obtaining meter data from a large number of individually metered tenants. By aggregating billing data at the level of the entire building, without providing any tenant-specific information, a number of utilities, including Commonwealth Edison (Chicago) and Consolidated Edison (New York City), have been able to provide commercial building managers with the information needed to benchmark in Portfolio Manager — while still maintaining the confidentiality of individual customers.
If you are just getting started with Portfolio Manager—or are running into difficulties obtaining the data you need to benchmark—you should ask your local utility company if it currently offers benchmarking support, or plans to provide it in the near future. For a complete list of utilities and EEPS currently supporting customer benchmarking through one or more program offerings, please see the Directory of Energy Efficiency Programs Leveraging ENERGY STAR .
Nancy Sutley, President Obama's principal environmental advisor and Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, has been visiting ENERGY STAR certified schools around the country to learn how energy efficiency is helping districts save money and create jobs. In conversations with students, faculty, and staff members, Chair Sutley has heard about successful behaviors and building retrofits that have improved schools' energy efficiency.
President Obama's American Jobs Act proposes a $25 billion investment to modernize at least 35,000 public schools across the country, which would include energy efficiency upgrades. This investment would put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work, including construction workers, engineers, and electrical workers, as well as energy managers, who coordinate service and product providers performing retrofits to ensure long-term energy savings and sustainability in school districts.
Sears Holdings Corporation recently launched their redesigned sustainability websites — www.sears.com/green and www.kmart.com/green — to highlight their environmental efforts and provide "green" advice to shoppers. An ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year award winner in product retailing (2003, 2010, 2011) and winner of numerous excellence awards for product labeling, Sears Holdings also is an active commercial buildings partner, with more than 100 certified Kmart buildings, and more than 170 certified Sears stores.
The websites present information both on what Sears Holdings is doing and what customers can do in their own homes in several areas of sustainability, including carbon and energy, waste reduction and recycling, water, transportation, product stewardship, and stakeholder management. A section on "green products" contains lists of appliances, home goods, and products to green the backyard or car. The carbon and energy management area of the website includes a search engine feature that allows customers to search for Sears and Kmart stores that are ENERGY STAR certified, and a list of ENERGY STAR qualified products that customers can purchase for their homes. Find a certified Kmart or Sears store in your state by clicking on "Carbon & Energy Management" and "ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings" on either the Sears or Kmart website.
Buildings don't have to be new to be energy efficient. One of the oldest buildings to earn EPA's ENERGY STAR was built in a) 1798, b) 1820, c) 1904, or d) 1938?
Answer: (b). The Cambridge Savings Bank building of Cambridge, MA, was built in 1820!