Step 2: Set an energy performance target

Once you have a team assembled, it’s time to set a goal. Choose from two types of goals:

Percentage better than median

You can specify a percentage better than the national median for any building. For example, the American Institute of Architects' (AIA) 2030 Commitment has established targets for all new buildings in the United States to use 70% less fossil fuel energy than the national average. It’s up to you to decide whether to meet or exceed those challenges!

For property types eligible to receive a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score, simply select a percentage amount within Portfolio Manager or Target Finder. For all other building types, choose the desired target from percent better than the median. The tool will calculate the EUI target based on your selection. Use the table of national energy performance medians to manually calculate your energy performance goal.

1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score

Several building types are also eligible to receive a 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score. This score ranks a building’s estimated energy use relative to similar buildings nationwide. The score normalizes for weather, building characteristics, and business activity, giving you the most realistic picture of your design’s relative energy performance available. A score of 50 indicates typical (or median) energy performance. A score of 75 or higher is required to achieve Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR recognition. Once built, these buildings will use, on average, 35 percent less energy than comparable buildings nationwide.

What about percentage better than code?

Many design professionals set a goal to achieve energy performance at a certain percentage above the building code for their projects. EPA doesn’t recommend this approach because most codes only cover certain energy uses or regulated loads in a building, so they don’t give you the whole picture.

Moreover, codes are based on a reference building, not real-world examples of how occupants actually use energy in buildings. This fictional comparison doesn’t give you anything you can use to evaluate your success once your building is in use. Likewise, it doesn’t tell you how your building is likely to compare with similar buildings nationwide.

Rather than building better than code, a measure that is difficult to follow up with after a building is occupied, EPA recommends designing to earn the ENERGY STAR. By taking this approach, you and your client can compare design intent with the property’s actual whole-building energy performance once occupied.

Did you know?

EPA’s 1 – 100 ENERGY STAR score is used in many other industry certification and green building programs.