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EPA Honors Top Energy-Efficient Building Designs/'Designed to Earn the Energy Star' Projects Featured at the American Institute of Architects National Convention

Release Date: 05/18/2012
Contact Information: Molly Hooven,, 202-564-2313, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – Today, at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention in Washington, DC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized nearly 100 commercial building design projects submitted by 43 architecture firms that achieved Designed to Earn the Energy Star certification in the past year.

Projects that receive Designed to Earn the Energy Star certification are estimated to be nearly 40 percent more energy efficient than typical buildings. In total, the projects recognized at the convention are estimated to prevent nearly 175,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and save more than $23 million in annual energy costs across 10 million square feet of commercial space.

"Building owners and architects who achieve EPA's Designed to Earn the Energy Star for commercial buildings are getting it right from the start," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. "From city skyscrapers to rural elementary schools, these new building design projects are helping to save energy and money from the ground up for American families and businesses."

By 2035, 75 percent of all buildings will be new or renovated, and architecture firms are uniquely positioned to design energy efficient buildings and reduce carbon emissions. For the past five years, EPA has worked with AIA to promote energy efficiency in new commercial construction by highlighting Designed to Earn the Energy Star projects at the AIA National Convention. This year, EPA's Energy Star Challenge: Race to DC created competition across the country to see who could submit the most Designed to Earn the Energy Star projects. The country was divided into three regions and the Big Easy Central, representing the mid-section of the country, won with nearly 50 projects achieving certification.

Project highlights from the three regions include:

  • East Coast RegionHigh Performance Computing Research Center at Princeton University (Princeton, N.J.); Architect of Record, Gensler: This project design provides power to the computers while using as little energy as possible. During winter, the air conditioning system can be switched off and giant louvers, or movable slates, can be opened to let in cold outside air.
  • Central RegionKroger Store (Dallas, Texas); Architect of Record, Robertson Loia Roof: This design incorporates energy efficient features such as cooler/freezer refrigerant heat replacement systems and roof planters for heat island effect reduction and shading. White high solar reflective roof material is also in the project plan to minimize sunlight absorption.
  • Western RegionRed Hawk Elementary School (Erie, Colo.); Architect of Record, RB+B Architects: The sustainable design of Red Hawk Elementary School creates a vibrant place for kids to learn with a central space connected to all parts of the school which allows for interactions amongst students and teachers. Sustainable features include proper orientation of classrooms to maximize daylight, displacement ventilation coupled with ground source heat pumps as well as radiant floor heating, low flow fixtures, and highly insulated building envelope.

Since the Designed to Earn the Energy Star certification was launched in 2004, nearly 430 projects from almost 180 architecture firms have achieved the certification. If these buildings are operated as designed, EPA estimates that they will prevent more than 452,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and save almost $50 million in annual energy costs. Projects that achieve Designed to Earn the Energy Star certification meet specific energy performance criteria set by EPA, perform in the top 25 percent nationwide on EPA’s national energy performance scale, and are independently verified by a licensed professional engineer or registered architect.

Launched in 1992 by EPA, Energy Star is a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. This year marks Energy Star's 20th anniversary. Over the past 20 years, with help from Energy Star, American families and businesses have saved about $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.7 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. To date, more than 1.3 million new homes and nearly 16,500 buildings across all 50 states have earned EPA's Energy Star certification. The Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products with more than 5 billion sold over the past 20 years.

More on the winners of the Projects receiving Designed to Earn the Energy Star Certification:

More on Designed to Earn the Energy Star Certification:

More on the 2012 Energy Star Challenge: Race to DC:

More on commercial building design: