The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that businesses and organizations recognized as leaders in the agency’s Energy Star program have achieved a 20 percent energy efficiency improvement in their buildings, a benchmark proposed by President Obama last year.
Under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Leaders program many businesses and organizations have stepped up to the energy standards. Even though the president called for the efficiency improvement by 2020, so far 90 organizations, including businesses, real estate developers, retailers, and many school districts, have reached or exceeded the 20 percent benchmark.
This amounts to nearly half of those organizations recognized as Energy Star Leaders.
“Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the most effective ways for American businesses, government, and other organizations to save money and reduce the pollution going into the air we breathe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson in an EPA press release. “With help from EPA’s Energy Star program, these leaders are benefiting their bottom lines while protecting our health and the environment.”
The Energy Star Program is “a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices,” according to energystar.gov.
Begun in the early 1990s, the efficiency standards originally pertained to electronic consumer goods in the United States. Energy Star standards have since been adopted by other countries, and in the United States have expanded to energy management tools for businesses.
Such businesses involved with Energy Star are provided by the EPA with an energy management strategy “that helps in measuring current energy performance, setting goals, tracking savings, and rewarding improvements,” according to energystar.gov.
A member organization’s buildings and facilities are assessed for energy performance and efficiency, using the agency’s own rating system.
Energy Star Leaders are a subset of Energy Star businesses, distinguished for achieving portfolio-wide energy efficiency improvements, who apply for and receive such distinction by the program.
These organizations don’t need to meet the 20 percent all at once, but can achieve it through efficiency improvement “milestones”: First attaining a 10 percent energy performance improvement, and subsequently at each 10 percent increment the organization is recognized and awarded.
The second milestone is reached when the organization performs in the top 25 percent of similar buildings across the nation. Also known as top performer status, the organizations are required to track and submit data to the program on a regular basis.
As a whole, Energy Star Leaders have reportedly saved more than $150 million on energy bills, with greenhouse gas emissions these organizations saved equivalent to that of 95,000 American homes.
According to the EPA, if every commercial and industrial complex in the United States increased its energy efficiency by 10 percent, Americans would each save approximately $20 on energy costs. According to the agency, the same figure is equal to the potential greenhouse gas emissions of approximately 30 million vehicles.
A few organizations have gone above and beyond the president’s called-for 20 percent. Last year the EPA honored Indiana’s Decatur County Community Schools for achieving an improved energy efficiency of 60 percent, the first Energy Star Leader to reach that high a margin.
So far, Energy Star Leaders “have achieved energy efficiency improvements across more than 11,400 buildings covering nearly 730 million square feet of the United States,” states the EPA.