Energy Star

Save More, Use Less, and Earn the ENERGY STAR

Did you know that a building or manufacturing plant can earn the ENERGY STAR label just like your refrigerator? An ENERGY STAR qualified facility meets strict energy performance standards set by EPA and uses less energy, is less expensive to operate, and causes fewer greenhouse gas emissions than its peers. Energy use in commercial buildings and manufacturing plants accounts for nearly half of all energy consumption in the U.S. at a cost of over $200 billion per year, more than any other sector of the economy. Commercial and industrial facilities are also responsible for nearly half of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to global warming.

How do I apply for the ENERGY STAR?

Benchmark your building in the EPA portfolio manager.  To get started, you must benchmark your building by enter the required data into Portfolio Manager.

Portfolio Manager is an interactive energy management tool that allows you to track and assess energy and water consumption across your entire portfolio of buildings in a secure online environment. Whether you own, manage, or hold properties for investment, Portfolio Manager can help you set investment priorities, identify under-performing buildings, verify efficiency improvements, and receive EPA recognition for superior energy performance.
The tool will tell you if your building may qualify for the ENERGY STAR. If it does, your next step is to complete the verification process and submit your application. There is no cost to apply. Learn more about this process.

Commercial buildings achieving a score of 75 or higher using Portfolio Manager and verified by a professional engineer or registered architect are eligible to apply for the ENERGY STAR. The energy star benchmarking program covers all types of facilities such as office buildings, banks schools and more.

Online training is provided by energy star to get you started benchmarking your building.

View all labeled facilities to get ideas or just to see what your neighbor’s energy star score is.

Signs of Building Efficiency – HVAC Systems

By Stephen Gerhardt, LEED AP, Chief Engineer

The first and easiest indication of a building’s efficiency is found through benchmarking. The best tool available is the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Energy Star Portfolio Manager. For assistance with benchmarking a building on this tool look out for the upcoming Energy Star training session by the BOMA SV Energy and Sustainability Committee.    

If your site is a commercial office space and your score is:

  • Above 90:   Congratulations! Your site is doing very well!
  • Between 75 and 90: Even though you are doing well and do qualify for the Energy Star label the building has room for improvement.
  • Between 40 and 75:  The building has some definite room for improvement. The plus side to this is that there are probably some no or low cost measures that can be done for quick improvement.   
  • Below 40:  There is more than likely something major contributing to this within the running of the base building systems. 

Yikes!  What do I do if my building score is below 40?  The good news with a score this low the issues should be easy to identify and again through low and no cost measures the utility expenses can probably be reduced significantly.  Look for the following common energy wasting culprits:

  • HVAC systems running nonstop or occupancy schedules are much longer than are needed
  • Major ducting leaks
  • Building lighting never turning off

Other indicators to look for:
Is the building is running the heating system during the summer?  Generally a heating system does not need to be running after the outside air temp (OSA) has risen past 65 degrees. A building running very efficiently will not use the heating system over 60 degree OSA. 

Why not?  When a building is at or above these temperatures human bodies and equipment (computers,  printers, etc.) provide enough heat to maintain at least 72 degrees.

Oops!  Turns out my heating system is run constantly, but we thought we needed it to because tenants are cold.  What is causing this?  Common problems that cause cold complaints on a warm day include:

  • VAV boxes are putting out cooling when they shouldn’t be due to a broken thermostat or VAV controls.
  • VAV boxes are putting out heating and cooling at the same time.
  • Poorly designed zone layout where two zones are fighting with each other, one in cooling mode the other in heating mode.
  • Duct leaks are allowing cooling to drop down through open return registers.

How do I identify and fix these concerns?  Track hot and cold calls.  Frequent calls indicate a problem most likely within the zone, not with the building system. Contact engineering or your HVAC Company to investigate and repair. 

What is the benefit?  Once these issues have been resolved your benefits and savings will come from:

  • Gas used to run the heating system
  • Energy usage to pump the heating through the building
  • Energy it takes for the AC system to get rid of all that unwanted heat.
  • Tenant comfort will also increase as problems are found and addressed
  • Wear and tear will be reduced on the entire HVAC system.

Okay, that’s a lot of benefits.  Where do I start? 

  • Start with benchmarking on Energy Star! Download Energy Star's Portfolio Manager Quick Start Guide.
  • Call your engineering team or building HVAC vendor.  Have them asses the building operations and start identifying low and no cost areas for savings. 
  • Reach out to the local utility company.  Many of these companies offer free services to identify areas your site can be improved as well as rebates on energy saving projects.
  • Assign someone on your team to monitor hot and cold calls for patterns and potential problem areas.  Start tackling those areas first.
  • Now that you know what to look for, walk around and listen!  


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