5500 Buildings Compete on Using the Least Energy

We’ve never seen "buildings battle," but in a time when "corporations are people" via the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, I guess it’s possible.

The battle has been launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where each year buildings compete on "who" can use the least energy. 

This year the theme of the Energy Star Battle of the Buildings is Team Challenge. 112 teams across the US, 5,500 buildings are competing to support goals President Obama announced in his Climate Action Plan – reduce energy waste 50% over the next 20 years. Most of the buildings are commercial, followed by education and government.

Teams of five or more buildings will work together to reduce their collective energy use over the coming year, such as Team Staples (17 stores) and Team Whole Foods Market (15 stores). 13 elementary schools in New Castle County, Delaware will compete as a team against the county’s five middle schools and six high schools. In Hillsborough County, Florida, fire stations will compete  against libraries.

Green Building EPA competition

Last year’s competitors saved an estimated $20 million on utility bills as nearly 50 buildings cut energy use by 20% or more. Over the five years of the competition, positive environmental results have grown exponentially, says EPA.

Competitors will measure and track their buildings’ monthly energy consumption using EPA’s online energy measurement and tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Building teams will work to optimize or upgrade equipment, retrofit lighting, and change occupants’ behaviors. The team that reduces average energy use the most, on a percentage basis, over the next 12 months will win. 

700 buildings are also competing to reduce water use, working with EPA’s WaterSense program.

EPA has a competition website that lists the teams and their starting, midpoint, and final standings, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress and an interactive map of competitor locations.

Commercial buildings in the US spend more than $100 billion in annual utility bills, consuming 17% of our country’s energy and producing same amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 buildings have earned the Energy Star label. Energy Star certified office buildings cost $0.50 less per square foot to operate than average office buildings, and use nearly two times less energy per square foot than average office buildings.

Top 10 cities for Energy Star buildings in this order: Los Angeles; Washington DC; Atlanta; New York; San Francisco; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Philadelphia; and Houston.

Read our article, 10 Major US Cities Form City Energy Project.

EPA Moves on Climate Change Forcers

EPA also announced that it will finally prohibit HFC’s in aerosols,  vehicle air conditioning, retail food refrigeration and vending machines, and foam blowing.  

Alternatives are readily available – and by banning these chemicals the industry will be free to innovate further to find even more benign substances.

HFCs deplete the ozone layer and are known as climate forcers (along with methane and black carbon). If these extremely powerful greenhouse gases are eliminated, the pace of climate change would be cut by half.

EPA’s action, under the Clean Air Act, would reduce US greenhouse gases by about 42 million metric tons by 2020, equal to the carbon emissions from the annual electricity use of more than five million homes.

Here’s the website for the 2014 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings:

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