EPA Analysis Shows Big Energy Savings For Benchmarked Buildings

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On October 10, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the largest U.S. building energy benchmarking data analysis to date, examining over 35,000 buildings that, from 2008-2011, consistently used the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager measurement tool. The buildings showed a 7% average savings in energy over three years—with the initial lowest-performing buildings making the greatest improvements.

The data revealed that if all buildings in the U.S. followed a similar trend, more than 18 million metric tons of carbon dioxide could be saved each year. The data was self-reported and was filtered to exclude outliers, incomplete records, and test facilities.

That much carbon dioxide saved would equate to $4.2 billion in energy savings just in the first year, according to The Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)’s calculations. EPA estimates that through 2020, the total savings in building energy use could be approximately 25% on a per-building basis if the trend continues.

“Improving the energy efficiency of our nation’s buildings is critical to protecting our environment,” said Jean Lupinacci, chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial & Industrial Branch. “No matter the building type, organizations across the country are using EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to demonstrate that you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

The vast majority of buildings realized energy savings every year, and the energy savings was experienced by all building types. Buildings that started with below average ENERGY STAR scores and higher energy use saved twice as much energy as those buildings that started with above average scores.

Among the building categories that achieved above average savings were retail, office, and K-12 schools. The research found that the average school district, with buildings totaling 800,000 square feet, would see annual savings of 2.4% for three consecutive years, yielding the salary of 1.2 full-time teachers each year.

“These findings show the power of information,” said Cliff Majersik, Executive Director of IMT. “Energy Star benchmarking is a powerful tool to guide and motivate building improvements to cut waste and save big money. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than 60% of building operators who benchmark use benchmarking to decide where to invest their resources and to make the business case for those investments.”

The full report can be downloaded here.

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