Consumers are used to seeing the blue ENERGY STAR® logo on household appliances, from their computer monitors to large refrigerators—there is strength in the positive brand awareness and strong association with energy efficiency. This becomes even more significant when the logo can be found on the buildings in which we work or the venues in which we shop. From small, locally owned businesses to some of the largest skyscrapers in metropolitan areas, the ENERGY STAR logo indicates adherence to the strict energy performance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The History Behind the Blue
Launched in 1999, the goal of ENERGY STAR certification for buildings is to recognize the most energy efficient buildings in the country. The certification program has grown from its inception to more than 25,000 certified buildings today. The certification program was created to parallel ENERGY STAR’s product labeling program, which has been active since 1992 and has expanded from office equipment (monitors, fax machines, printers) to a wide variety of construction, HVAC and household products (roof, air conditioners, large appliances and televisions). According to a 2016 ENERGY STAR Household Survey sponsored by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), 91 percent of households recognize the ENERGY STAR label and 75 percent have a ‘high understanding’ of what it means. And among all households, 45 percent knowingly purchased an ENERGY STAR labeled product in the past 12 months.
Which Buildings can be Certified?
More than 80 property types are built into ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager, ranging from offices to retailers to senior care centers to wastewater treatment plants (fun fact: in Canada, there’s even a certification for ice/curling rinks). So, chances are quite good that your building is eligible to pursue ENERGY STAR benchmarking and certification.
Building energy consumption data and attributes (square footage, number of employees, number of computers, etc.) are entered into Portfolio Manager and given a score between 1 and 100, which represents its energy efficiency performance percentile. For example, a building receiving a 90 is more efficient than 90 percent of comparable buildings across the United States. Buildings scoring a 75 or above (in other words, buildings performing in the top 25 percent of comparable buildings) become eligible to receive the ENERGY STAR certification.
Unbiased, Third-Party Certification
The ENERGY STAR certification stands as an exclusive club of the most energy efficient buildings in the country, and serves as a third-party, unbiased recognition of a building’s strong energy performance. Many businesses can claim that they are energy efficient, or taking steps to get there, but the certification makes it official because the information in the application is verified by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) or Registered Architect (RA). Certifications are given on an annual basis so a building must maintain its score of 75 or above from year to year.
Why You Should Certify your Buildings in 2018
Companies that have pursued ENERGY STAR certification have different reasons for doing so, but several common, compelling benefits have emerged:
- Connect with customers and employees. ENERGY STAR is a recognizable brand and certification is based on actual, verified energy performance, which makes buildings more attractive to potential buyers and lessees. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of workers are attracted by an employer with an environmental reputation, and about half of workers said they would forgo higher pay or a promotion to work for an organization with a good reputation.
- Lower operating costs. The average ENERGY STAR certified building uses 35 percent less energy, and the cost savings can be substantial. It costs 50 cents less per square foot to operate, and in 2015, the average savings per certified building was $250,000.
- Higher income and increased rental value. It is more likely that the higher net operating income from energy cost savings will be recognized through higher building valuation.
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Because ENERGY STAR certified buildings are verified to use 35 percent less energy, on average, than similar buildings, they can also be verified to contribute 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
- Scoring will be getting harder next year. To continue to reflect the evolving efficiency of commercial buildings, ENERGY STAR scoring will be changing for several building types, causing a potential drop in scores and sites eligible for certification. Many companies are acting quickly to certify all buildings near the scoring threshold of 75 before August of 2018. To learn more about the upcoming changes, visit ENERGY STAR’s Score Updates Website.
For additional information on these surveys, visit ENERGY STAR’s website.
ENERGY STAR certified buildings consume less energy, save money, and reduce carbon emissions. Benchmarking and reporting not only helps you gain recognition from ENERGY STAR, but data and reporting can be submitted to CDP when needed for annual emissions reporting, and included in annual responsibility reports to stakeholders.
ENGIE Insight is proud to have been recognized as ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence for the past 13 years. As the leader in ENERGY STAR benchmarking, ENGIE Insight submits data from more than 53,000 client locations to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager each month. By combining our breadth of data with the expertise of Certified Energy Managers, ENGIE Insight helps companies develop long-term plans to improve efficiency year over year, conducts onsite inspection for ENERGY STAR certified locations, and supports clients’ state or city-based regulatory reporting needs. This year, we are providing dedicated onsite inspection for clients seeking to receive ENERGY STAR certification in advance of the scoring changes.
Please contact us for more information about how you can leverage EPA’s ENERGY STAR program to reduce resource consumption, improve your bottom line, and gain industry recognition as an environmental leader.