They may call it “La La Land,” but the folks in Los Angeles know how to get things done. In 2012, for the fifth consecutive year, Los Angeles remained in first place as the U.S. city with the biggest concentration of Energy Star-rated commercial structures—with 528 buildings that qualify to date.
During 2012 through the U.S. Energy Star program, the Environmental Protection Agency helped more than 20,000 Energy Star certified buildings across America to save more than $2.7 billion in annual utility bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equal to emissions from the annual electricity use of more than two million homes.
Commercial buildings that earn EPA’s Energy Star must perform in the top 25 percent of similar buildings nationwide, as verified by a professional engineer or a registered architect. Energy Star-certified structures use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional buildings. Fifteen types of commercial buildings can earn the Energy Star, including office buildings, K-12 schools, and retail stores.
The Top Ten
Among the other frontrunners this past year (in descending order from numbers two through ten), were the cities of Washington, DC (462), Chicago (353), New York (325), Atlanta (304), San Francisco (291), Houston (241), Dallas-Ft. Worth (214), Phoenix (202), and Boston (188). (See complete chart.)
Chicago, in particular, represents a come-from-behind story. Starting in sixth place in 2008, the Windy City has increased the number of buildings certified within its metropolitan limits by an average of 32 percent every 12 months—coming in at number five in 2009; and at number four in 2010 and 2011, before reaching number three this year. Phoenix broke into the top 10 for the first time this year, after starting at number 22 in 2008.. Boston, a newcomer to the list last year, held on to 10th place, with 11th place Philadelphia not far behind. Additionally, seventh place Houston is home to one in particular structure that stands out: Phoenix Tower, a 34-story office building, has earned EPA’s Energy Star 14 times—more than any other site in America.
A Nationwide Initiative
“Through their partnership with EPA, the owners and managers of Energy Star certified buildings are helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions while saving on utility bills,” said EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. “With Energy Star, cities across America are helping achieve President Obama’s goal to cut in half the energy wasted by our businesses over the next 20 years.”
Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. EPA continues to see an increase in buildings applying for and earning Energy Star certification each year. The cumulative number of Energy Star certified buildings has increased by more than 24 percent compared to 2011, representing more than three billion square feet of floor space nationwide. In 2012 alone, more than 8,200 buildings earned EPA’s Energy Star certification.
Launched in 1992 , the program has enabled American families and businesses to save more than $230 billion on utility bills and has prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 65 different product categories and more than 1.4 million new homes, as well as over 20,000 commercial buildings.
Edited by Jamie Epstein