The next time you go to the grocery store, office supply outlet, library, or school you might be in one of the 5,500 buildings that are competing in the Battle of the Buildings to save energy by reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Nationwide, this year’s Team Challenge will help set the bar for meeting the President’s goal of a 50-percent reduction in building energy use over the next 20 years.
The competition has 112 teams that include buildings in just about every sector from commercial real estate and health care to retail, government and education. Teams of five or more buildings will work together to find ways to lower their cumulative energy use over the next year. All of the competitors must be using the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager®, an online too that helps building owners and operators measure and track their energy and water consumption as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, for a single building or a group of buildings. The system has become so popular it is used by the Canadian government, 35 percent of the Fortune 500®, half of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations, major league sports teams, college and universities, and even whole cities.
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According to the EPA, energy used in U.S. commercial buildings costs more than $100 billion each year and represents approximately 20 percent of both the nation’s energy use and its GHG emissions. But the Battle of the Buildings is making an impact with the 2013 competition saving building owners and operators an estimated $20 million on utility bills. In fact, almost 50 buildings in that competition saw energy use reductions of 20 percent or more.
For example, the 2013 top ranking building over all and in the education category was Claiborne Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which reduced energy use by an incredible 45.9%, saving an estimated $114,499 and preventing 488 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The second place building overall and first place winner in the office category, Hillside Center, First Potomac Realty Trust in Columbia, Maryland, realized energy savings of 37.1 percent resulting in annual cost savings of approximately $30, 428 and 185 MtCO2e of GHGs prevented. In third place was Lake High School Complex with CCG Energy Solutions, Inc. in Uniontown, Ohio, which achieved 36.2% in energy savings, $263,428 in annual cost savings and prevented emissions of 1,514 MtCO2e of GHGs.
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This year’s unique Team Challenge competitors include such companies as “TeamStaples” with 17 stores, “Team Whole Foods Market” with 15 stores, 13 elementary schools in Delaware competing against five middle schools in the same county, and in Hillsborough, Florida, fire stations will be competing against local libraries. Competitors will track their energy use reductions on a percentage basis over a 12-month period and winners will be announced in April 2015.
In addition to the team energy competitions, 700 individual buildings will also compete in a special water reduction category, working with the EPA’s WaterSense program to implement best practices for commercial building water management.
To find out more about the competition and the competitors past and present, go to http://www.energystar.gov/buildings/about-us/how-can-we-help-you/communicate/energy-star-communications-toolkit/motivate-competition-0.