15 years of ENERGY STAR learning

15 buildings that cut their energy use by 15% in one year

Claiborne Elementary

Claiborne Elementary School

Baton Rouge, La.

45.9% energy savings
$114,499 estimated cost savings
488 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

DeBusk Middle School

DeBusk Elementary School

Greeneville, Tenn.

29.1% energy savings
$5,819 estimated cost savings
50 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented


Dee Events Center

Ogden, Utah

22% energy savings
$52,400 estimated cost savings
337 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented


Demarest Elementary School

Bloomfield, N.J.

52% energy savings
$75,900 Estimated Cost Savings
267 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

High Construction

High Construction Company

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

35.3% energy savings
$32,960 estimated cost savings
221 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

Hillside Center

Hillside Center II

Columbia, Md.

37.1% energy savings
$30,428 estimated cost savings
185 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented



Shawnee, Okla.

33.9% energy savings
$21,100 estimated cost savings
221 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented


Kmart 7499 Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, Ohio

31% energy savings
$28,200 estimated cost savings
287 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

Lake HS

Lake High School Complex

Uniontown, Ohio

36.2% energy savings
$263,428 estimated cost savings
1,514 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

NC Area Health Building

North Carolina Area Health Education Center Building

Chapel Hill, N.C.

34% energy savings
$36,100 estimated cost savings
133 metric tons GHGs prevented

Verizon Wireless

Toms River Verizon Wireless

Toms River, N.J.

43% energy savings
$7,400 estimated cost savings
56 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

Garage C

The University of Central Florida’s Garage "C"

Orlando, Fla.

62.7% energy savings
$34,907 estimated cost savings
258 metric tons GHGs prevented


Vons Credit Union

El Monte, Calif.

27% energy savings
$1,400 estimated cost savings
23 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

Walsh Associates

Walsh & Associates Warehouse

Saint Louis, Mo.

34% energy savings
$13,500 estimated cost savings
43 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

West MS

West Middle School

Shelbyville, Ky.

28.9% energy savings
$35,275 estimated cost savings
307 metric tons greenhouse gas emissions prevented

15 fun ways to engage your employees and tenants in saving energy

  1. Encourage them to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Ask building occupants to sign a pledge to take the stairs at least once a week. Then post motivational signs in the stairwell to remind them that they’re doing their body—and the environment—good.
    Take the stairs
  2. Give them energy “citations” to hand out. You can’t be everywhere at once. Why not deputize your building’s occupants to be your eyes and ears, like Kelly Creek Elementary School did with their students? Your occupants will have fun with it, but it will also train them to keep an eye out for wasteful behaviors.
    Energy Citiations
  3. Give out prizes. You’ll be amazed what people will do for free stuff. You could host an ice cream social, like Brandywine Realty did, to tell tenants about energy-saving efforts, while also bolstering goodwill. Some organizations aim even higher with free ENERGY STAR certified flatscreen TVs or appliances. Or simply give out $5 gift cards to anyone who suggests an energy-saving idea.
    Ice-cream social prize
  4. Teach them how to enable power management settings. Computer power management settings are a no-brainer when it comes to energy efficiency. But many of your occupants may be scratching their heads at the idea. Unless you can activate sleep settings across your organization’s network, be sure to give them step-by-step instructions using the off-the-shelf tools from our Low Carbon IT Campaign. Helpful reminders like this one from Food Lion’s energy team can help reinforce the instructions.
    power management
  5. Use peer pressure to your advantage. Kenton County School District posts each school’s energy performance on a public webpage for all to see, including students, staff, and the community. This motivates everyone at the schools to take action when they slip or continue to outperform the other schools.
  6. Give them sticky note reminders. This one is easy. Print up some sticky notes, like New York Presbyterian did below. Give them out to your occupants and tell them they can stick the notes all over your building. Then sit back and watch as they do your job for you.
    post it note reminders
  7. Host an energy fair. Invite local vendors to set up booths, give away free LED bulbs and ENERGY STAR materials, and then use the opportunity to share your organization’s energy reduction goals and how you need their help. In the picture below, Eastman Chemical hosts an employee education fair and lets employees know about ways to save energy and money at home, too.
    Host an energy fair!
  8. Post performance for all to see. You can’t expect your employees and tenants to care about saving energy if you don’t give them any information about what you’re doing. This Seattle office building hung this sign in its window, prompting an employee to take a picture and put it on his blog. He thought it was great and was excited to share the news with his friends.
    Post performance for all to see!
  9. Let them engage each other. These students at NC State University made a series of YouTube videos explaining how to save energy in their dorm, Tucker Hall. Studies show that people tend to trust messages more if they come from people who are similar to themselves. So find a few enthusiastic employees to help spread the message to their peers.
    Engage each other
  10. Show them the results of their actions. During Operation Shutdown at Crystal River Middle School, students ran around the building shutting down all non-essential lighting and equipment for one hour. The next day, they were all shown the graph, below, which shows the results of their actions: a 73% reduction in energy use during that hour. Show them that their actions really DO make a difference, and it will be easier to get your buildings occupants to take those actions.
    Show the results
  11. Get the champions to team up. Chances are, your employees and tenants run the gamut from die-hard environmentalists to climate skeptics. Your job is to identify the champions and empower them to form a green team. Give them a place to meet, educate them, give them support, and they’ll probably deliver great results that support what you’re trying to do. (Temporary tattoos, like the ones Kilroy Realty gave their tenants below, are optional.)
    Champion team tattoos!
  12. Let them know you value their actions. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to show your appreciation once your goals are reached. But by letting your employees and tenants know that their efforts are valued and appreciated, like the city of Palo Alto did in the picture below, you’re more likely to get their support the next time around.
    Value your team's actions
  13. Host a competition. A great way to make saving energy exciting and bring out your occupants’ competitive spirit is to host a competition. Depending on your metering, consider pitting tenants against tenants, floors against floors, or sister buildings against each other. L’Oreal hosted the “I’ve Got the Power” campaign among floors, and gave a $5,000 prize to the winners. The winning floor reduced energy consumption by 37% over the six months, and L’Oreal saved $16,500 in energy costs for the building.
    Host a competition!
  14. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You occupants won’t help unless you ask them for it. Use all the channels you have to help get the word out, whether it’s sending monthly blast emails with tips, posting on social media, hanging up posters and reminders around the halls and common areas, or creating an energy team bulletin board, like Intertape Polymer Group did, below.
    Communicate with an energy board!
  15. Don’t underestimate them. They DO care. They have good ideas. And some of them may even be willing to dye their hair blue, dress up like a building, and do jumping jacks for you, as in the Servidyne video, below. All you need to do is give them the opportunity.
    Don't underestimate
Thanks for reading! Check back soon for our next installment and keep reading below to find our other tips from 15 years of learning.

15 quick-and-easy ways to save energy in buildings

  1. Conduct a nighttime audit to find out what’s on afterhours that shouldn’t be.

  2. Revise janitorial practices to reduce the hours that lights are turned on each day. Better yet, switch to daytime janitorial service. This enables all lighting, heating and cooling to turn off or down at the end of the work day. It also allows employees to get to know the janitorial staff and opens lines of communciations.

  3. Visually inspect insulation on all piping, ducting and equipment for damage (tears, compression, stains, etc.).

  4. Turn off lights in rooms when not needed. This can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent.

  5. Install vending machine misers to reduce annual operating costs by $300 per year.

  6. Maximize daylighting. After all, sunlight is free! Open or close blinds to make the best use of natural daylight and take advantage of skylights or other natural daylight sources to reduce lighting during daytime hours.

  7. Remove unnecessary lamps (de-lamp) in overlit areas. Check your light levels against standards from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) to see if you have areas that are over- or under-lit.

  8. Enable the power management function on office computers, which automatically puts monitors to sleep when not in use. To enable this function, visit www.energystar.gov/powermanagement.

  9. Assign someone to turn off printers, copiers, and fax machines at the end of each day. A copier left on all day and night costs more than $150 annually.

  10. Regularly change or clean HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.

  11. Control direct sun through windows depending on the season and local climate. In the summer months, block direct heat gain from the sun shining through glass on the east and especially west sides of the facility. Depending on your facility, options such as "solar screens," "solar films," awnings, and vegetation can help. Over time, trees can attractively shade the facility, and help clean the air. Interior curtains or drapes can help, but it's best to prevent the summer heat from getting past the glass and inside.

  12. Make sure that areas in front of vents are clear of furniture and paper. As much as 25 percent more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked.

  13. Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on heat pumps, air-conditioners, or chillers. Dirty coils inhibit heat transfer; keeping coils clean saves energy.

  14. Repair damaged insulation and replace missing insulation with thicknesses calculated for the operating and ambient conditions of the mechanical system.

  15. Ask your utility if they offer free or inexpensive energy audits and/or equipment rebates.

15 pieces of energy saving advice from leading organizations

  1. "Do the basics right; get on base. You can't score if you don't get on base first. There's a lot of money to be saved by improving what you already have. Continuously adapt your program to squeeze out additional savings."
           - Sears Holdings Corporation
  2. "Start getting all stakeholders on board with the energy program from the beginning, whether they're your building occupants, employees, maintenance staff, contractors or visitors. Customize your communications and interactions with them for the most effective way to gain their cooperation."
           -  Claiborne Elementary School
  3. "Start simple. There are a surprising number of options available in most buildings to improve energy efficiency and realize cost savings without breaking the bank or requiring complex solutions."
           -  First Potomac Realty Trust
  4. "Do your homework! First, understand your energy consumption, review usage per building system, and query occupants about realistic space needs. Next, research and select vendors based on proven results.... Lastly, understand which M&V [Measurement and Verification] process to use to measure project performance."
           -  CCG Energy Solutions, Inc.
  5. "Ensure your organization has the expertise and resources to properly operate and maintain your existing system, before you consider adding more complexity."
           -  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  6. "The cliché 'if you can't measure it, you can't manage it' applies to conserving energy too. You need to spend time and review and oversee the issue if you expect to reduce energy."
           -  U.S. General Services Administration
  7. "Communicating the positive benefits of an energy management program to your target audiences is a critical first step. Treating the program as an organizational priority and having the support and commitment of all levels of the organization is imperative. Once you have people on board, you’ve cleared a significant hurdle."
           -  Des Moines Public Schools
  8. "Three things imperative to a successful energy conservation program are supportive leadership, effective communication, and having a person responsible for monitoring consumption and maintaining conservation measures."
           -  Greene County Schools
  9. "Look for that low-hanging fruit; it's usually easy to find by just walking around your building and observing what's using energy. Every project that you undertake doesn't have to turn into a big event or involve building automation; sometimes it's as easy as changing operational policies to shut off all of the lights at the end of the day."
           -  University of Florida
  10. "You need to know how you're doing; knowing how much energy your facilities use compared to other organizations is very important when considering an energy management program. Using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager allows me to see how my buildings are ranked nationally and on what facilities I need to focus my efforts."
           -  Shelby County Public Schools
  11. "Continuous monitoring and verification is the key to energy savings."
           -  Trane Company
  12. "Don't try to tackle everything at once; it's a process. Listen to your buildings, learn your buildings. Then you can begin to implement your program."
           -  Bloomfield Public School District
  13. "First, select a vendor that has experience with all project parts needed, as well as experience doing equipment upgrades. Second, perfect upgrades on a pilot, then duplicate those successes to others. And lastly, avoid ‘cherry picking’ only the best upgrades. Instead, use bundling to achieve your payback goal and maximize your energy reduction."
           -  Army and Air Force Exchange Service
  14. "Team up with other energy champions in your company. Don’t worry if you have to start small; doing the right thing tends to gain momentum!"
           -  Verizon Wireless
  15. "Focus on minimizing HVAC run times and temperature settings during unoccupied hours. Use ASHRAE guidelines to identify boundaries for temperature and humidity conditions inside your buildings during off hours. Also, communicate the financial impact of your successes across your organization to promote a positive attitude towards energy conservation."
    -  Westfield Washington Schools

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