The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the 2014 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings: Team Challenge. More than 5,500 buildings nationwide are going head-to-head to reduce their energy use. In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for businesses to cut in half the amount of energy they waste over the next 20 years, the competition specifically targets wasted energy in commercial buildings, and will motivate businesses to improve energy efficiency, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and save money.
“The competitive spirit is alive and well among the building teams working to improve their energy efficiency in this year’s Battle of the Buildings,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “After four successful years, we’re excited to see the innovative ideas that will emerge from the competitors as they find new ways to save energy and money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment.”
In the only coast-to-coast competition of its kind, dozens of different types of commercial buildings are facing off in this year’s Energy Star Battle of the Buildings. This year’s theme, “Team Challenge,” features teams of five or more buildings who will work together to reduce their collective energy use as much as possible over the course of a year. For example, “Team Staples” includes 17 Staples stores, while 15 Whole Foods stores will support each other as part of “Team Whole Foods Market.” In New Castle County, Del., 13 elementary schools will compete as part of a team, and they’re going up against their county’s five middle schools and six high schools. In Hillsborough County, Fla., fire stations will team up to compete against libraries.
This year marks the fifth year that EPA has hosted the Battle of the Buildings. The competition—and positive environmental impacts—have grown exponentially since that time. Altogether, last year’s competitors saved an estimated $20 million on utility bills. Nearly 50 buildings in the competition demonstrated energy use reductions of 20 percent or greater.
Commercial buildings in the United States spend more than $100 billion in annual utility bills and are responsible for approximately 20 percent of both the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. By improving the energy efficiency of the places they work, play, and learn, the competitors will save energy and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
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—all with help from Energy Star. The team that reduces its buildings’ average energy use the most, on a percentage basis over a 12-month performance period, will be declared the winner. In addition to the team competition, 700 individual buildings are also competing in a special water reduction category, and will work with EPA’s WaterSense program to apply best practices for commercial building water management.
EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, featuring a list of the competitors and their starting, midpoint, and final standings, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress and an interactive map of the competitor’s locations. Midpoint results will be posted in October, with the winner announced in April 2015.
Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.8 billion sold. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 buildings have earned the Energy Star label.