Blog

What is ENERGY STAR?

The ENERGY STAR label is nationally recognized as a symbol of energy efficiency and reduced operating costs for household appliances. But did you know that buildings can be certified too? 

In the United States there are 17 building uses that can be certified as ENERGY STAR rated buildings:

  • Bank branch
  • Courthouse
  • Data center
  • Distribution center
  • Financial office
  • Hospital (general medical & surgical)
  • Hotel
  • K-12 school
  • Multifamily housing
  • Non-refrigerated warehouse
  • Office
  • Refrigerated warehouse
  • Retail store
  • Senior care community
  • Supermarket/grocery store
  • Wholesale club/supercenter
  • Worship facility

The rating system is run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is an important tool for tracking your building’s energy consumption, water consumption, carbon footprint, and much more. Understanding your building’s utility consumption is a great first step in reducing your utility costs and impact on the environment.

How are buildings measured?

ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the online interface the EPA has developed to help building management teams track their utility consumption and compare their building performance to similar buildings throughout the country. The program uses the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) and local weather data to calculate where your benchmarked building stacks up against the industry average. The 1-100 score generated by the program indicates what percentile of efficiency your building lies within. A score of 50 represents the average building. Your building can be certified if it obtains a score of 75 and above. An ENERGY STAR score of 75 means the building is part of the most efficient 25% of buildings of similar size, use, and location.

As of August 26, 2018, the program data will be updated from the 2003 CBECS to the 2012 CBECS. This update will affect all previously benchmarked buildings and compare any new submissions to the recent data set. Program operators have indicated that the general expected trend across the building types is an improvement in building energy efficiency, making it more difficult, and more prestigious for buildings to become certified.

Why should my building get rated?

Besides potentially being certified by a nationally recognized organization, there are several other great reasons to benchmark your building in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager:

  • On average, ENERGY STAR Certified buildings have higher occupancy.
  • Over a dozen major cities throughout the United States require annual benchmarking, which can be done in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.
  • If you’re able to certify at a score of 75 or above, your building is instantly recognized as a well-operated building that will help save tenants money on their energy bills.
  • Executive Order 13514 mandates that federal agencies only lease space from ENERGY STAR Certified buildings.
  • Tracking your energy consumption against a national average gives you a baseline to compare your efficiency efforts against and track the progress made at the building.

These are just a few of the benefits of benchmarking and certifying within the ENERGY STAR program. If you have goals to reduce utility costs, increase occupancy, or showcase efficiency efforts, ENERGY STAR Benchmarking is a great tool to use.

How can VERTEX help?

VERTEX’s energy efficiency experts have extensive experience benchmarking and certifying buildings of all types within the ENERGY STAR program. VERTEX’s competitively priced service includes a visit to the building to observe general building operations and systems, development of a building profile within ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, utility consumption data review and entry, and filing for certification for buildings with a score of 75 or higher. VERTEX also has in-house staff with the knowledge to identify low and no cost energy conservation measures for building improvement to accelerate achieving certification and realizing real utility cost savings.

To learn more about VERTEX’s Property Condition Assessment services, or to get information on measuring and certifying your buildings, contact TJ Schenkel or Eric Nelson.

Reference:

Authors

Timothy Schenkel, EIT, LEED AP O+M

Assistant Project Manager