(Last updated 9/21/2020)
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way many buildings in the United States operate. We have assessed the impact of these changes on 1-100 ENERGY STAR scores and have updated some of our guidance accordingly. Our first priority continues to be the health and safety of all of our stakeholders. The guidance below will allow more of you to apply for ENERGY STAR certification while complying with the recommendations of medical experts for reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
NOTE: This information applies only to commercial buildings in the U.S. Natural Resources Canada will be issuing separate guidance for Canadian stakeholders. In addition, no changes have been made to ENERGY STAR certification for industrial plants.
Guidance on benchmarking in Portfolio Manager (U.S. commercial buildings only)
Updating use details
All buildings should update the following use details to reflect changes in operations due to COVID-19:
- Weekly Operating Hours (K-12 schools: Update entry for “Weekend Operations (yes/no)”)
- Number of Workers on Main Shift (Hospitals: Update value for “Number of Full-Time Equivalent Workers”)
For the time being, only these specific use details should be updated – all other inputs, such as “Number of Computers” (for offices and other building types), “Number of Staffed Beds” (for hospitals), etc. should only be updated if the changes were NOT due to the impacts of COVID-19.
Guidance on applying for 2020 ENERGY STAR certification (U.S. commercial buildings only)
Period Ending Dates: July 2020 and earlier
- All buildings (with exceptions for some retail stores and hotels as noted below) may apply for 2020 ENERGY STAR certification using data through July 2020.
After extensive analysis to assess the impacts of extreme changes in operations on ENERGY STAR scores, we can now accept applications for ENERGY STAR certification with a PED through July 31, 2020, regardless of the changes in operations which may have occurred in the building due to COVID-19. Before applying with PEDs from March-July 2020, applicants must have updated “Number of Workers on Main Shift” (or “Number of Full-Time Equivalent Workers” for hospitals) and “Weekly Operating Hours” (or “Weekend Operations (yes/no)” for K-12 schools) use details as needed to reflect such changes.
IMPORTANT EXCEPTION: Retail stores and hotels that had a period of time when they were completely shut down will not eligible to apply for certification if the period covered by an application includes more than 60 days of closure. See this FAQ for more information.
Period Ending Dates: August 2020 and later
- Buildings with operations that were unaffected by COVID-19 may apply now using data which includes August 2020 and later.
- For everyone else, the decision of whether to apply now or wait for further guidance from EPA depends on how your building operations were impacted by COVID-19:
- If your application includes only time when your building was operating normally, and your site visit was conducted during normal operations (or you can reuse the site visit from a 2019 certification), you can apply now and we will process your application.
- If your building operations were reduced in any significant way, we strongly recommend that you wait to apply until EPA provides further guidance. EPA will be providing this guidance on certification eligibility for periods from August 2020 and later by mid-November. Waiting to apply will decrease the likelihood of your application being placed on hold and you having to make edits to your application in the future.
- If you are unsure of whether you should apply now or wait, please contact EPA or e-mail NRCan and we will advise you on the best course of action.
Timing and deadlines
- EPA’s deadline for 2020 certification applications has been extended to February 10, 2021 to provide adequate time for applications with PEDs in October, November, and December 2020 to be submitted after our next communication in mid-November.
- You no longer must submit an application for ENERGY STAR certification within 120 days of the application’s Period Ending Date (PED).
- Some buildings have additional options for site visits including reusing a site visit from an approved 2019 application or conducting a 2020 site visit by taking measurements in areas of the building where workers are present.
- Applications must include a detailed description of how your building’s operations have been impacted by COVID-19.
- We can help with time-sensitive needs to receive ENERGY STAR certification.