What exactly is Energy Star?

Jim Messner

Energy Star.  That little blue logo you may recall seeing on your dishwasher, refrigerator, or water heater.  What is it and why does it appear everywhere?

Energy Star is a certification system that was originally born from collaboration between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DoE).  Energy Star was launched in 1992 to provide a system of determining appliances that met a designated efficiency.  Prior to its launch, consumers were generally left without a simple method of comparing efficiencies between models and brands, needing to instead read the fine print and take manufacturer’s claims at face value.  Energy Star was such a success for home appliances that in 1999 it was expanded to include analysis of building energy use.

The Energy Star rating system for buildings is structured slightly differently than the system in place for appliances.  Rather than designate a set energy usage for buildings to meet, Energy Star takes a more subjective approach.  Properties are categorized based on their usage type (educational, institutional, healthcare, etc) and then their energy usage is compared to similar building types.  The average of similar buildings equates to a score of 50, with scores being allotted according to the percentile that the building falls in, i.e. 60th percentile equals a score of 60.  Energy Star then designates any building scoring over a 75 as being Energy Star certified.  This system ensures that as all buildings collectively become more efficient, the standards to meet Energy Star will rise with them.

For building and property owners, Energy Star designation is a recognizable achievement with many external benefits. First and foremost, Energy Star certification demonstrates lower energy use and a smaller budget needed to maintain energy costs.  For building owners, these savings can be significant.  Energy Star certification also shows a dedication to sustainability and belief in the environment.

SHP is proud that many of the buildings we designed have receive recognition at this Federal level. For example, whether through architecture, engineering, management or a combination of these services, SHP has played a part in over 20% of the K-12 schools in Ohio to receive Energy Star certification in the past five years (81 out of 390). We have also served the needs of several other public as well as commercial clients in this area.

Could your building become Energy Star certified?  Contact us today and we’ll be happy to provide our insights.

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