This week, the EPA launched its 4th annual Energy Star National Building Competition in which teams from more than 3,000 buildings across the country are competing to see who can most reduce their buildings’ energy use.
Competitors measure and track their buildings’ monthly energy consumption using the EPA’s Energy Star online energy measurement and tracking tool, and work over the year to cut energy waste through improvements that range from equipment replacement to changes in occupant behavior. Midpoint “weigh-in” results for the “biggest energy losers” will be posted in December, with the winner announced in April 2014.
The competition specifically targets wasted energy in commercial buildings and motivates businesses to improve energy efficiency, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and save money, in line with President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for buildings to cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020.
The contest has gotten more popular compared to its first year in 2010, when 14 buildings competed, to this year, when 3,200 buildings entered the challenge. The EPA says that last year’s competitors cut their energy costs by more than $50 million and reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 43,000 homes.
This year, more than 25 different types of commercial buildings are facing off, representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The diverse mix of competitors includes the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, Fla., a Catholic cathedral, a rectory in Seattle, New York City’s historic 100 Park Avenue building and Busch Stadium— which is home of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The EPA features a list of the competitors and their weigh-in results on the Energy Star website, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress, an interactive map of the competitors’ locations, and a user-generated photo stream where competitors can upload pictures of their energy-saving efforts.
In the US, commercial buildings account for approximately 20 percent of both the nation’s energy use and its greenhouse gas emissions, at a cost of more than $100 billion annually, according to the EPA.
Aside from portals that serve as a building’s energy dashboard, mobile apps are also being used as tracking tools. Last year, CodeGreen Solutions launched a free mobile app that helps building owners view EnergyStar information on Android smartphones. New Energy Star disclosure requirements in cities such as New York, Seattle, San Francisco and Austin have increased the importance of having higher scores.