Utilities are increasingly looking to offer energy efficiency programs to meet regulatory obligations, reduce peak demand, and/or contribute to environmental protection. Voluntary partnerships are an important pathway for meeting these goals because energy efficiency delivers an impressive value proposition to both consumers and businesses. ENERGY STAR, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency recognized by more than 85% of American households, provides a powerful platform for utilities implementing demand side management programs.
Residential buildings consume approximately 22% of the energy used in the United States each year. Therefore, working with the residential new construction market to ensure that homes are built to rigorous energy efficiency standards is an important opportunity to maximize end-use efficiency and avoid or postpone the construction of costly new power generation facilities.
Both single family and multifamily buildings can earn the ENERGY STAR label. New construction single family, manufactured, and modular homes as well as units in low rise multifamily buildings (3 stories and below) can earn the ENERGY STAR through the Certified Homes Program. Units in most mid and high rise buildings (4-5 stories and above with central systems) can earn the ENERGY STAR through the Multifamily High Rise (MFHR) Program.
ENERGY STAR certified homes are designed and constructed to be significantly more energy efficient than those built to code while lowering homeowner utility bills and providing superior comfort, quality, and durability. Homes built to the ENERGY STAR guidelines will be at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). As a result, sponsoring an ENERGY STAR Certified Homes program is an opportunity to promote energy efficiency in the residential market and to capture long-term peak and energy demand savings that can stand-alone or complement other residential energy efficiency initiatives.
Utilities interested in expanding their residential energy efficiency portfolios to include mid and high rise multifamily buildings should consider sponsoring an ENERGY STAR Multifamily High Rise program. For units in multifamily mid and high rise buildings to earn the ENERGY STAR, a new or substantially rehabilitated mid or high rise multifamily building must be designed to be at least 15% more energy efficient than a building built to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1. These buildings must also undergo rigorous testing and verification to ensure that efficiency measures are properly installed and that the buildings achieve their energy savings targets.