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Degree of Recognition of Energy Star and Portfolio Manager
Looking broadly at buildings in the U.S., in your judgment where are we in using the potential of Energy Star and Portfolio Manager? What is its degree of recognition?
When EPA created the Green Lights program (which evolved into today’s ENERGY STAR program) in 1992, there was limited understanding about the energy performance of buildings and plants. Owners and managers saw their utility bills, but without a broader context they had no way of knowing whether they were using more energy than they should have been. This was both a problem—because buildings account for 17 percent of the energy used in this country—and an opportunity—because the average building wastes about 30 percent of the energy it consumes.
The good news is that in the more than two decades since this program was founded, awareness and participation have grown rapidly. More than 6,000 organizations have joined ENERGY STAR as a partner, including 57 of the FORTUNE 100. The ENERGY STAR label is now recognized by more than 85 percent of consumers. More than 400,000 buildings now use Portfolio Manager to measure and track their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions—accounting for about 40 percent of all commercial building floor space in this country. That makes Portfolio Manager the de facto industry standard benchmarking tool in the commercial buildings market. And more than 25,000 buildings and plants have earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification for superior energy performance.
We owe a lot of that success to the EPA’s focus on energy performance of the building as a whole. ENERGY STAR certification is based on actual, measured performance—not projections or models. The broad market adoption and demonstrated success of ENERGY STAR has also attracted municipal governments and private sector businesses to incorporate Portfolio Manager and the 1-100 ENERGY STAR score into both programs and policies aimed at improving energy efficiency. On the federal level, agencies are required to assess and track their energy use with Portfolio Manager, and agencies leasing space must lease in ENERGY STAR-certified buildings.
That’s not to say that we’ve reached our potential. In the coming years, we’ll be exploring ways to reach more small and mid-sized buildings in addition to large portfolio holders, as well as placing an extra emphasis on less developed sectors such as multifamily housing and warehouses. In addition, we’ll be ramping up our efforts to produce tools and resources aimed at engaging tenants and other stakeholders that have a significant impact on the energy use of buildings. And we’ll continue working with our current partners to drive greater reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions than ever before.
Answers provided by Lauren Hodges, director of communications, ENERGY STAR for Commercial Buildings & Industrial Plants, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.