Thousands of buildings around the U.S. are going head to head to see who can go the greenest.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program launched the 2012 National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings last week.
Each participant in the year-long contest will compete to see who can save the most energy. Improving energy efficiency will also help companies lower utility costs and protects the environment and people’s health. The building with the largest percentage reduction in energy use along with top finalists in each building category will be recognized by the EPA in April 2013.
The competition, in its third year, had just 14 participants in 2010. Last year, there were 245 buildings entered.
“This year the number of teams committing to increase energy efficiency through the Energy Star Battle of the Buildings is larger than ever before — more than ten times as many as last year. We’re expecting record energy savings as more and more buildings cut back on their energy use,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said in a press release.
According to the EPA, commercial buildings in the U.S. are responsible for about 20 percent of the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. This large-scale consumption costs more than $100 billion annually in energy bills. The national competition was created as a means to lower the environmental impact that businesses are making.
And, so far, the results are promising.
In 2011, the 245 participants saved $5.2 million on their utility bills and prevented nearly 30,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equal to the emissions from the electricity used by more than 3,600 homes a year.
This year’s competition features a variety of commercial buildings from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. The types of buildings range from clothing stores to senior living communities to police crime labs.
Competitors use EPA’s Energy Star online tool, Portfolio Manager, to track their monthly energy consumption. The University of Central Florida won the 2011 competition after cutting the energy use of an on-campus parking garage by more than 63 percent.
You can track of the progress made by buildings here, by visiting the competition’s website.
Many of the building in this year’s competition are also involved in the EPA’s WaterSense program and the building that saves the most water will be recognized alongside the building competition’s victor next year.