Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments

Local Topics - Energy Efficiency in Non-Governmental Buildings

Bringing Building Energy Efficiency to Your Community

Energy used by commercial and industrial buildings in the United States is responsible for about $400 billion in annual costs 1 and generates 45 percent of our national emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to global climate change 2. Increasing energy efficiency of U.S. buildings by 10 percent would reduce GHGs equal to the emissions from about 49 million vehicles 3 while improving air quality and saving $40 billion4.

Typically, municipal operations only represent a small percentage of the total GHG emissions of a jurisdiction. Therefore, local governments have an important opportunity to reduce GHG emissions within their jurisdiction and promote energy efficiency to the building owners throughout the community. EPA, through the ENERGY STAR program, provides local governments with tools and resources to lead by example in their own buildings while promoting increased energy efficiency for other building types.

Promoting Energy Efficiency for Non-Governmental Buildings

Local governments can support increased building efficiency by working with community groups and considering voluntary and regulatory policies.

Work with Other Groups in Your Community: Raising awareness about the environmental and financial benefits of energy efficiency to all building owners can help local government efforts to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. ENERGY STAR offers tailored programs to help local officials improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for multiple building types in their community:

  • Architects and Engineers: By 2035, 75 percent of the buildings in the United States will be either new or renovated. Architects have a unique opportunity to change the way buildings use energy and contribute to carbon emissions.
  • Commercial Real Estate: The average building wastes about a third of the energy it consumes.
  • Congregations: Most congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30% by investing strategically in efficient equipment, facility upgrades and maintenance.
  • Health care: Every dollar a nonprofit health care organization saves on energy is equivalent to generating new revenues of $20 for hospitals or $10 for medical offices.
  • Higher Education: ENERGY STAR helps institutions become environmental leaders and save money for repair and renovation, hiring of new faculty, new construction, and other core activities.
  • Hotels and Hospitality:  On average, America’s 47,000 hotels spend about 6 percent of their operating costs on energy each year. Whether the facility is a large convention hotel, part of a national chain, or a small inn or motel, there are energy efficiency opportunities that will improve guest comfort, lengthen equipment life, and reduce operating costs.
  • Manufacturing and Industry: Whether making steel, refining oil, or canning vegetables, there is a lot of room for improving energy efficiency throughout the industry.
  • Schools: The annual energy bill to run America’s primary and secondary schools is a staggering $8 billion.
  • Small Businesses: Small business owners can typically save as much money and prevent as much pollution, per square foot, as large organizations.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants are energy-intensive operations due to cooking equipment, heating, cooling, lighting, and sanitation, often using five to seven times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings.

Consider Voluntary Programs and Regulatory Policies: Local governments across the country are taking bold steps to protect the environment and lower energy costs by adopting energy efficiency policies that leverage EPA’s ENERGY STAR tools to reduce energy use in commercial buildings, through both required policy measures and voluntary campaigns (PDF). (4 pp., 131K, About PDF)



Tools and Resources

Building Upgrade Manual
The ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual is a strategic guide that can help local governments implement profitable energy saving building upgrades. Governments can maximize energy savings by sequentially following the five building upgrade stages: retro-commissioning, lighting, supplemental load reduction, air distribution systems, and heating and cooling upgrades.

ENERGY STAR for State and Local Governments
Through ENERGY STAR, EPA offers state and local governments a proven platform for saving energy. EPA offers off-the-shelf resources that are ready to be tailored to your jurisdiction’s energy and financial performance goals. Learn about policies that specify the use of ENERGY STAR tools, leading by example, how to develop energy efficiency programs and policies, host energy saving competitions, and more.

Online Training
ENERGY STAR offers free online training to help local governments improve the energy performance of their operations. Training is available through a variety of formats including live web conferences, animated presentations, pre-recorded trainings, and self-guided presentations.

Portfolio Manager
Portfolio Manager is online tool you can use to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Use it to benchmark the performance of one building or a whole portfolio of buildings, all in a secure online environment. Portfolio Manager is the tool of choice among cities such as New York, Seattle, and Boston that have passed mandatory benchmarking laws. Not only that, but Portfolio Manager is used by the Canadian Government as the platform for their national energy benchmarking program for existing commercial and institutional buildings.

Target Finder
Local governments can use this Web-based tool to assist with energy management planning during the design phase of building construction. Target Finder allows planners to set an aggressive energy performance target for building design and compare estimated energy consumption to the established target. The tool can provide direction during the design process and facilitate the evaluation of a range of energy efficiency measures to achieve energy and cost goals.

Top of Page

ENERGY STAR Publications

Many ENERGY STAR publications can be ordered free of charge. Brochures include:

Bring Your Green to Work
ENERGY STAR “Bring Your Green to Work” tip cards (PDF) (2pp., 94K), posters (PDF) (1p., 782K), and notepads (PDF) (1p., 45K)are available to raise employee awareness about how energy efficiency helps protect the climate and offers tips on making smart energy choices during the work day.

ENERGY STAR Challenge Toolkit
Spread the word with ready-to-use communication materials such as energy saving info cards, co-brandable posters and print advertisements, public service announcements, and a wide variety of ENERGY STAR publications and brochures – all downloadable in the ENERGY STAR Challenge Toolkit.

Join Us in the Fight Against Global Warming
The Join Us in the Fight Against Global Warming (PDF) (12pp., 702K) consumer brochure provides action that residents in a community can take to save energy, save money, and help fight global warming at home at and work.


ENERGY STAR Challenge 
The ENERGY STAR Challenge is a national call to action to improve the energy efficiency of America’s commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent or more. Local governments can use the free Challenge Toolkit to help engage commercial businesses in their jurisdiction.

Low Carbon IT Campaign (Power Management)
The ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign is a nationwide effort to assist and recognize organizations for reducing the energy consumed by their computers and monitors.

Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR
Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR is a national campaign encouraging all Americans to make changes at home, at work, and in their communities with ENERGY STAR qualified products and energy-efficient practices.

1 U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings program. 19 March 2015. Total annual cost of energy in the commercial and industrial sector: $400 billion.

2  Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas and Sinks: 1990-2013. Table 2-5: CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion by End-Use Sector (MMT CO2 Eq.)" February 2015.

3  Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas and Sinks: 1990-2013. Table 2-5: CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion by End-Use Sector (MMT CO2 Eq.)" February 2015. From Table 2-5: Commercial Total CO2 = 934.4 MMTCO2e. Industrial CO2 = 1400 MMTCO2e. Total CO2 = 2334.4 MMTCO2e. Using US EPA's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator 2334 Million Metric Tons CO2 = 491,368,421 vehicles; 10% reduction for Challenge = approximately 49 million vehicles

4  U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings program. 19 March 2015. Total annual cost of energy in the commercial and insutrial sector: $400 billion. 10% of $400 billion = $40 billion