ENERGY STAR compares a building’s energy performance to that of similar buildings nationwide, and buildings have become more energy efficient in recent years. This is good news! It also means that if you benchmark properties in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, you’ll likely see a downward change in your buildings’ ENERGY STAR scores after August 26, 2018.

First, some background. A building’s ENERGY STAR score, which is a grade on a scale of 1 to 100, is based on the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), which is conducted every four years by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). As of August 26, 2018, ENERGY STAR will begin using CBECS 2012 data to develop a baseline for the property or building scoring instead of the previous CBECS data. The CBECS 2012 data shows an overall improvement in the energy performance of the U.S. building stock. So, when ENERGY STAR metrics are updated on August 26th, ENERGY STAR scores and other performance metrics of even high-performing buildings will, on average, go down.

Know that you will not be alone – we anticipate reduced ENERGY STAR scores across industries and building types, setting a new baseline for performance. In the grand scheme of things, this is because energy efficiency of the U.S. building stock is going up – thanks to building owners and operators like you who have pursued optimum efficiency!

While we can’t completely predict the changes we’ll see in scoring, we’ve done some research and have some recommendations for building owners and operators to help navigate the ENERGY STAR scoring changes this year.


We dug into the data so you don’t have to. Here are our top findings:

The following graph shows the changes in consumption of energy end uses as monitored by CBECS in 2003 and 2012. Space heating and lighting are the highest of all end uses. Interestingly, CBECS 2012 data also shows the greatest improvement in efficiency of these end uses.


An 8 to 15-point drop in ENERGY STAR score is predicted once changes are enacted, depending on the building type. While offices, retail stores and supermarkets, and K-12 schools have a predicted drop in points, warehouses are predicted to have an increase of 3 points.

(source data: ENERGY STAR)


Based on Paladino’s research, there are several things building owners and operators can do to maximize their 2018 score:

  1. We recommend that properties with ENERGY STAR scores close to 75 apply for certification before the updated scoring sets in on August 26th. If you’ve already earned a 2017 certification, your next eligible period will be 11 months after the “Year Ending” date from your previous application. But if the “Year Ending” date for your 2017 certification is between June and December 2017, ENERGY STAR is granting a one-time exception due to the baseline changes and you can apply as early as April 30th and no later than July 26th to be scored on the current baseline.
  2. To keep pace with the improved baseline for heating and lighting, consider retrofitting or implementing energy conservation measures to improve the heating and lighting efficiency of your building.

Let’s navigate this together

Remember, ENERGY STAR scores are a great marketing tool, and they operate as a back-check on your buildings’ performance. Every effort that is made to improve ENERGY STAR scores should also improve your business’s profit, efficiency, human performance, and/or social initiative.

If you’d like to discuss your ENERGY STAR scoring strategy further, contact us!

If you are new to ENERGY STAR, consider these resources:

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