Commercial Buildings in Communities with Different Income and Racial Characteristics
DataTrends is an ongoing series of research and analysis from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using data from the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® tool. This 23-page report compares building performance, the prevalence of electrification, reliance on heating oil, and the use of on-site solar at buildings benchmarked in Portfolio Manager, across communities with different income and racial characteristics.
Using ENERGY STAR scores as a metric for building energy performance, the analysis shows that buildings overall in communities of color score an average of 2% lower than buildings in majority-white communities. Buildings in low-income communities score an average of 4% lower than those in moderate- and high-income communities. In low-income communities and communities of color, K-12 schools and multifamily housing buildings show the largest differences in ENERGY STAR scores compared to higher-income and majority-white communities, lower by roughly 9%.
The distribution of buildings that are all-electric, use heating oil, or have on-site solar may indicate how well positioned a community’s buildings are for achieving low-carbon operation. For communities in cold to moderate climates with the highest proportion of residents of color (greater than 75%) the data reveal the following relative to communities with fewer residents of color:
- The proportion of all-electric buildings is roughly 50% lower.
- Heating oil is used more frequently.
- The proportion of K-12 schools using heating oil is 2 to 3 times higher.
The data also revealed that, in both communities with a majority of low-income residents and a majority of residents of color, a lower proportion of K-12 schools have onsite solar.