Updates to ENERGY STAR® metrics with new market data

On August 26, 2018, EPA updated performance metrics for U.S. buildings in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® based on the most recent market data available. If you benchmark one or more properties in Portfolio Manager, your buildings’ 1–100 ENERGY STAR scores and other source energy metrics were updated across all time periods to reflect the latest performance metrics. Note that none of these changes impacted Canadian buildings. This update is part of EPA’s standard process to keep ENERGY STAR metrics as current as possible, and reflective of current market performance.

Additional review period

Now that the updated models are live in Portfolio Manager for all users, EPA is implementing a review period, during which we will specifically solicit feedback on the application of those models to various commercial building sectors and the resulting scores. The review period will help us ensure that the models are working as intended to deliver energy performance metrics that empower you to make the business case for owning and operating energy-efficient buildings. EPA will work in conjunction with stakeholders and technical experts to conduct this analysis and adjust the scoring models, if needed. This will include further evaluation of score changes for U.S. buildings of different sizes, locations, and fuel mixes, as well as additional types of analysis that are possible now that stakeholders are able to update their data and calculate their revised scores in the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software tool.

The Agency is mindful of the many building benchmarking reporting requirements starting in the spring and plans to complete this analysis and finalize all scores in advance of that time, so as not to disrupt these cycles. In addition, we will coordinate with program implementers and policymakers that leverage the ENERGY STAR score on the appropriate use of the new metrics during the review period.

During this period, EPA will temporarily suspend awarding certifications for all U.S. property types with new score models. (This excludes multifamily, data center, hospital, senior care community, and manufacturing facilities, as well as facilities located in Canada, which will continue to be processed normally. EPA will also continue awarding Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR during this time.) EPA will work to resume certification as soon as possible, and will begin accepting certification applications by property type as each model is evaluated and finalized. 

We value your continued trust, support, and understanding, and we remain committed to working with you, our stakeholder community, to ensure that ENERGY STAR delivers the best outcomes for the environment and for business.

EPA’s three-phase review period

As we communicated previously, now that the new ENERGY STAR score models are live in Portfolio Manager, EPA is implementing an industry engagement and review period, which will be conducted in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Listening & engagement: The first phase of the review period is a listening phase, during which we are soliciting feedback on the application of the models to various U.S. commercial building sectors and the resulting scores. EPA collected feedback online through October 10th. If you have additional input, please contact user support.
  • Phase 2: Analysis based on feedback: The next phase will be analysis, which we will conduct using the feedback and observations collected during the listening phase. EPA will work in conjunction with stakeholders and technical experts to conduct this analysis.  
  • Phase 3: Communication of results: Once the analysis is complete, we’ll determine if any adjustment is necessary to any of the score models. We’ll communicate the results to you through webinars and other channels.

We’ll complete all three phases property type by property type, and as each property type’s model review is finalized, we’ll resume processing ENERGY STAR certifications.

To learn more about the recently completed updates to ENERGY STAR scores, see the following:

What is the latest available market data?

For most types of commercial buildings, the 1–100 ENERGY STAR score is based on the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), which is conducted about once every four years by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). The latest CBECS data became available in 2016 and is based on the results of the 2012 survey. (EIA was unable to publish the 2007 CBECS; therefore, prior to this update, many of the scores relied on data collected in 2003.)

What does this mean for my ENERGY STAR score?

The 1-100 ENERGY STAR score compares your building’s energy performance to that of similar buildings nationwide. Because the ENERGY STAR score is a comparison with the national building stock, and the national building stock has improved in efficiency over the past decade, the average ENERGY STAR score for most building types will have gone down after the model updates.

Before the update, EPA calculated average score changes by building type based on buildings benchmarked in Portfolio Manager, and we published those average changes to give our stakeholders some idea of what to expect. However, because your buildings may differ from the typical building used in our analysis, the change in your building’s ENERGY STAR score will vary from the published average depending on its energy use, fuel mix, business activity, property type, and other variables. Furthermore, by definition, roughly half of buildings of any type should have larger decreases than average, and half should have smaller decreases. 

The following 1–100 ENERGY STAR score models were updated:

  • Bank branches
  • Courthouses
  • Financial offices
  • Hotels
  • Houses of worship
  • K-12 schools
  • Offices
  • Retail, including retail store and wholesale club/supercenter
  • Supermarkets
  • Warehouses, including refrigerated, non-refrigerated, and distribution centers

Note that ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and Target Finder also generate metrics used to evaluate energy design targets of new construction, including the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score. Both tools calculate metrics using the same underlying methodology, so design metrics were also refreshed.

What else changed besides updates to 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores?

In addition to updates to 1-100 ENERGY STAR score models, there were two other changes included in the August 26, 2018 metric updates:

  1. Data center estimates: There is a new option to use estimated energy use for data centers. This option is designed for smaller data centers, within another property type, and where it is not practical to measure IT energy use. The industry best practice and recommended option continues to be to separately measure and enter IT energy use when feasible. Read an FAQ on using data center estimates
  2. Source energy factor for electricity: The source energy factor helps level the playing field for different fuel types by tracing the energy requirements of the building back to the raw fuel input (coal, gas, steam, hydro, etc.). Based on the national average, the new national source factor for electricity is lower.  Performance metrics could increase or decrease from this change depending on the building’s fuel-mix ratio, though changes based on this update alone with be comparatively small in magnitude relative to those from the score model updates. Read the source energy factor technical reference for more information.

What time periods were impacted?

When ENERGY STAR metrics were updated on August 26, 2018, the new calculations were applied across all time periods, which means your scores and metrics for all historical periods may have changed. By applying this update across all time periods, you’ll continue to be able to analyze changes that are a result of your own activities, rather than changes in underlying market data. Unfortunately, EPA is not able to provide your pre-update scores or metrics for any individual buildings or portfolios. Learn more.

What steps should I take next?

Check benchmarking data

To ensure you’re getting the most accurate score possible:

  • Replace default values: We added a number of new required property use details for several property types, and populated these with conservative default values. Replace them with actual values to improve accuracy, and possibly your score. Learn more.
  • Benchmark data center space: If you have data center space within your building, but it isn’t metered as required for benchmarking, you have a new option to use “estimated” data to account for the high energy intensity of data center spaces, and possibly increase your score. Learn more.
  • Check data for accuracy: Confirm that all your other benchmarking data is accurate. Small errors can sometimes have a big impact.

Download the communications toolkit

The communications toolkit has been updated to help you communicate with your stakeholders about what changed during the updates. It includes:

Plan and host an Energy Treasure Hunt

Hundreds of organizations have used Energy Treasure Hunts to reduce their facilities’ energy use by 7 to 15 percent. During an Energy Treasure Hunt, groups of people walk around a building looking for opportunities to save energy. Treasure Hunts focus on quick fixes with a short payback period.

  • Preview and download ENERGY STAR Treasure Hunt resources that are now available to help your organization plan and host a successful Treasure Hunt in time for Energy Awareness Month this October.
  • Sign up for a webinar on Tuesday, September 11, at 1:00 p.m. ET to hear from two ENERGY STAR partners that have used Treasure Hunts as a way to improve day-to-day operations and engage building operators and employees in “discovering” treasure in their facilities.

Listen to a pre-recorded webinar

  • What changed in Portfolio Manager and why? ENERGY STAR scores and metrics after the 8/26 update. On August 26, 2018, EPA updated the models in Portfolio Manager that power 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores with new data, based on the latest Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. When metrics were updated, ENERGY STAR scores and other performance metrics, on average, went down. A few days after these updates, EPA presented this webinar on what information changed in the tool and why.

Read frequently asked questions

EPA has a dedicated section of frequently asked questions about the 2018 metric updates in the ENERGY STAR Buildings help desk. If your question is not among the FAQs, submit a question by clicking the “Ask a Question” tab. 

List of 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores and technical details

The table below provides a quick overview of 1–100 ENERGY STAR scores that were updated, a link to the technical reference, a link to the technical webinar, if available, and data source summary.

Space Type

Link to Slides and Webinar Recording

New Use Details Added in August 2018?

Release Date(s)

Source of Data

Collection Date(s)

Hotel

August 2017: Updated 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score for Hotels (PDF, 5.6 MB)

Listen to the recorded webinar here.

No

*2018

2009

2002

CBECS

CBECS

Industry Survey

2012

2003

1999

K-12 School

April 2017: K-12 School: Progress of ENERGY STAR Score Update (PDF, 1.0 MB)

Listen to the recorded webinar here.

Number of workers on main shift (Existed previously, but now required)

*2018

2009

2004

2000

CBECS

CBECS

CBECS

CBECS

2012

2003

1999

1995

Office (including financial office, bank branch, and courthouse)

Listen to the recorded webinar here.

May 2016: Office ENERGY STAR Score Update Plans (PDF, 253 KB) Listen to the recorded webinar here.

No

*2018

2007

2004

1999

CBECS

CBECS

CBECS

CBECS

2012

2003

1999

1995

Retail (including retail store and wholesale club/ supercenter)

May 2016: Retail ENERGY STAR Score Update Plans (PDF, 222 KB)


Listen to the recorded webinar here.

No

*2018

2007

CBECS

CBECS

2012

2003

Supermarket

May 2016: Retail ENERGY STAR Score Update Plans (PDF, 222 KB)

Listen to the recorded webinar here.

Number of Open or Closed Refrigeration/ Freezer Units (Existed previously, but now required)

*2018

2008

2001

CBECS

CBECS

CBECS

2012

1999 & 2003

1992 & 1995

Warehouse (including refrigerated, non-refrigerated, and distribution centers)

January 2018: Updated 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score for Warehouses (PDF, 1.9 MB)

Listen to the recorded webinar here.

Percentage of gross floor area used for cold storage (New as of August)

Percent that can be cooled and Percent that can be heated (refrigerated warehouse)

(New as of August)

*2018

2009

2004

CBECS

CBECS

CBECS

2012

2003

1999

Worship Facility

January 2018: Updated 1-100 ENERGY STAR Score for Worship Facilities (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Listen to the recorded webinar here.

Gross floor area used for food preparation (New as of August)

Percent that can be cooled and Percent that can be heated

(New as of August)

*2018

2009

CBECS

CBECS

2012

2003

*Implemented August 26, 2018.

For slides and recordings of all webinars related to the 2018 metric updates that have been held since planning began in 2014, visit 2018 ENERGY STAR metric updates: All webinar recordings.

Live webinars

Visit the ENERGY STAR training portal to register for a no-cost webinar about the upcoming ENERGY STAR metric updates or an “Ask the Expert” session.  

Frequently asked questions

Visit the ENERGY STAR Buildings help desk to read FAQs about the upcoming updates to ENERGY STAR metrics or to submit a question.

What is the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score and certification for buildings?