When the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last August that it was going to update its ENERGY STAR rating system, the reaction was positive overall. After all, the 26-year-old rating system, which generates scores of one to 100 to measure energy efficiency in buildings, needed an overhaul to account for vastly increased participating buildings and new technologies such as motion-sensitive lights and cloud-based energy management systems.
ENERGY STAR scoring surprises
The EPA warned – and building owners expected – that revising ENERGY STAR scoring in light of more participants and better energy performance across the U.S. building stock would likely result in lower scores across the board. For example, a building that was built two decades ago and recently scored an 82 when compared to 10,000 peer buildings using the previous set of data, may only score a 62 today when compared to 200,000 peers, many of which were built with more modern energy-saving technologies.
The ENERGY STAR score is a benchmark against other buildings, so a score of 75 means that your building is performing better than 75% of similar buildings nationwide. Anything building with an ENERGY STAR score that is less than 75 cannot be ENERGY STAR certified.
It turns out that the drop in scores produced by the new scoring rubric has been more dramatic than landlords expected, with some buildings even losing their coveted ENERGY STAR certified status.
So many building owners have shouted foul.
As a result, the EPA postponed implementing the changes, promising to work with landlords to make the changes more fair and less confusing. The EPA is working to reinstate certification by early 2019.
Note that at the time of publishing, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR system is not publishing any scores because of the government shutdown (and its website is also down). We expect the ENERGY STAR site and portal to function as normal upon conclusion of the government shutdown.
Don’t slow down just because the EPA has
While the ENERGY STAR scoring dust settles, building operators should keep doing the good work that is required to adapt to the new scoring concept! After all, as valuable as the ENERGY STAR rating is in attracting tenants and investors, getting that rating is not the end game. Operating buildings that are as energy-efficient as possible is the aim, and rating systems such as ENERGY STAR are simply back-checks to this effort.
Paladino can help building owners and operators to understand the scoring changes, and we encourage building owners to continue progressing energy efficiency efforts even as the EPA regroups.
Here are three steps owners can take.
- Check the property’s current score or apply for an ENERGY STAR rating
If you are considering applying for an ENERGY STAR rating soon, we recommend setting up your property in Portfolio Manager to determine your current score. It can take several months after changes are implemented before changes in the score are realized.
- Get an Energy Audit and/or engage Paladino for Retro-Commissioning
Energy audits are the best-kept secret of smart facilities and operations managers. The information from an ASHRAE Level I, II, or III energy audit can result in immediate energy efficiencies. They can also confirm whether equipment needs to be replaced, and can help you operate your budget more effectively in 2019. Learn more here.
- Monitor the property’s score and Submit for Certification when you hit goal
In addition to providing recommendations to improve a property’s energy efficiency, Paladino can review the property’s ENERGY STAR data, and provide certification services to help you submit the certification application when the property reaches a score of 75.
The goal is to operate a great building and eliminate waste – While a dropped ENERGY STAR score can be disappointing, and the pause on the ENERGY STAR update can be confusing, operating the best building you can is a clear winning strategy.