Each year the Environmental Protection Agency releases a list of the top 25 U.S. cities, ranking each city by total number of ENERGY STAR certified buildings within city limits. ENERGY STAR certified buildings perform in the top twenty five percent in energy efficiency of similar building types across the nation. In order to obtain the prestigious ranking, the building must be verified by a licensed professional. Numerous varieties of commercial buildings can be certified, from traditional office buildings, to retail locations, and even schools.
"ENERGY STAR-certified office buildings cost 50 cents less per square foot to operate than average office buildings, and use nearly two times less energy per square foot than average office buildings. To date, more than 25,000 buildings across America have earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR designation. These buildings have saved more than $3.4 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use from 2.4 million homes."
- Chris Potter, GreenBiz.com
For the first year since the list began in 2008, the EPA found Washington D.C. to have the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings, (480,) and Los Angeles to come in at a close second, (475.) The D.C. metro area also boasts the greatest number of LEED certified buildings. As mentioned, in years past L.A. has always been at the forefront of green commercial building projects. However, recent environmental laws in the area in addition to a landmark green construction code as aspects of the district's Sustainable DC plan have propelled the District of Columbia into the top spot for this award.
Additional programs put into place to make D.C. greener include: the DC Sustainable Energy Utility, DC’s Downtown Business Improvement District, the DC Smarter Business Challenge and the Arlington Green Office Challenge.
Cities around the country are working to improve overall sustainability and energy efficiency in efforts to not only lower carbon emissions, but also to cut operating costs. Many more ENERGY STAR certifications are expected to be earned in the next year, making for a tight race among top cities across the county yet again, and hopefully yielding a few new cities on the list of leaders.
In a statement released by the EPA on the rankings, Jean Lupinacci, chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial & Industrial program said, “This list shows how America’s cities are leading the nation in cutting carbon emissions and fighting climate change...By embracing energy efficiency as a simple and effective pathway to reach their sustainability goals, these cities are demonstrating the tangible benefits that result from simple, cost-effective reductions in energy use.”
For more information on the EPA's rankings as well on what initiatives are being made by those leading the pack in ENERGY STAR certified buildings, stop by GreenBiz.com to read the article by Chris Potter.