EPA’s Energy Star program gets updates, new building certifications
Wednesday, June 12, 2019
There have been several updates to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, including changes to the Star score. The score ranges from one to 100, which is the current national benchmark for energy performance.
Per program guidance, facility managers and users enter information about their buildings into Portfolio Manager, the EPA’s online resource management tool that is used to assess the status of the application submitted.
Then, using this information, which includes key operational details and actual energy use, Portfolio Manager calculates a score that compares a building’s energy performance to similar buildings nationwide after adjusting for weather and other factors that drive energy use.
The score represents a percentile ranking. According to Jean Lupinacci, chief of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 50 score is the median.
"If a building scores less than 50, it’s performing worse than half of all similar buildings nationwide and may be a good target for cost-effective, energy-efficiency improvements. A score of 75 or higher indicates a building is performing in the top 25% of buildings nationwide and may be eligible for Energy Star certification," Lupinacci wrote in a piece for FacilitiesNet.
Ultimately, he said, the Energy Star score provides a clear, simple picture of a building’s energy performance.
Buildings are not compared to other buildings, but many of the score models compare a building’s adjusted performance to the national building stock. The Energy Star program, in its more than 20 years, has certified more than 34,000 buildings for superior energy efficiency. These facilities use an average of 35% less energy than other buildings in the U.S.
For the current year, Energy Star program changes include new scores for building types. Additionally, the EPA implemented a review period for the new score models once scores were live in the Portfolio Manager system.
According to Lupinacci, the EPA "is working in conjunction with stakeholders and technical experts to conduct analyses that are possible now that stakeholders are able to update their data and calculate their revised scores in Portfolio Manager. EPA also suspended Energy Star certification until the score review was completed."
Additionally, the EPA is targeting "key areas" for review across all new score models with certification reinstatements complete for two areas of commercial buildings — warehouses and hotels.
The program’s ratings extend beyond these facilities, though. For example, the Honda Transmission Manufacturing of America facility in Russells Point, Ohio, is the first U.S. auto transmission facility to earn certification — the highest quartile for energy efficiency in the country.
General Motors has also been recognized for its energy efficiency. GM received the program’s highest recognition for energy management, the 2019 Energy Star Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award. The automaker has received the award eight times since 2010. As of 2018, 17 GM buildings in the U.S. were certified by Energy Star, including two data centers.
In its program review, the EPA said it is conducting "extensive analyses" to confirm that the models are properly capturing the efficiency improvements of the last decade, as well how energy is used in buildings. Based on these results, no additional adjustments have been made to the warehouse or hotel models released in August 2018.
The two most recent score models reinstated under the program by the EPA are for K-12 schools and houses of worship. Office and retail are planned for reinstatement in the summer of 2019.
More details and a schedule can be found here.
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