Eye on Energy Star: Proposed Budget Could Spell Trouble

  February 14, 2018

By Dan Hounsell

Are the days of Energy Star numbered?

The voluntary labeling program from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helps businesses save money and protect the environment through energy efficiency. Energy Star has been a driving force behind the more widespread use of such technological innovations as fluorescent lighting, power management systems for office equipment, and low-standby energy use.

The program also has helped many maintenance and engineering managers evaluate opportunities to reduce energy costs in institutional and commercial facilities and then promote their achievements, both within their organizations and to the general public. Some organizations have certified multiple buildings. The top certifiers — organizations that earned the Energy Star label for 150 or more buildings in 2014 — collectively reduced their energy costs by $562 million and prevented more than 2.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA.

Read: The case for Energy Star

The program’s future is uncertain, however, under the proposed 2019 budget recently released by the Trump administration. The administration has eyed the program for cuts over the last year, and the wide-ranging budget cuts in the proposed budget include major changes for energy and environmental programs.

Under the proposal, Energy Star would convert to a fee-based program, meaning that companies would have to pay to use the label, according to an article by Greentech Media. Under the blueprint, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would see a slight bump in funding to $30.6 billion over the current $30.1 billion. State and local clean air agencies would see a $75 million reduction in funding, falling 34 percent to $152 million.

Learn: Energy Star lessons for managers

According to budget number released by the DOE, energy and related programs would receive $2.5 billion under the proposed 2019 budget, a drop of $1.9 billion from the 2017 budget. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) would receive $696 million, a cut of $1.3 billion below the 2017 budget. The EPA's 2019 budget would see a 34 percent cut from 2017 — to $5.4 billion — and would reduce spending at the National Science Foundation by 30 percent.

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell — dan.hounsell@tradepressmedia.com — editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.


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