In an effort to get buildings to shed some of their bulging energy usage pounds, the EPA has just announced the National Buildings Competition where they challenge “14 buildings and the teams inside them,” to, “work off their weight with Energy Star.” The buildings range from a convention center in Virginia to an elementary school in Colorado and are all charged with the task of reducing their waste and cutting their energy consumption as much as they can in 180 days. Just like the game show The Biggest Loser, they’ll have a weigh in — the buildings have two – one halfway through and a final weigh in – to monitor their energy saving progress.
Commercial buildings make up 18% of the nation’s energy use and 18% of the greenhouse gasses which run an annual energy price tag of $100 billion and a huge environmental impact. It is estimated that about a third of that energy is wasted. In comparison Energy Star buildings generally use 35% less energy and cost $0.50 less to operate than regular buildings. The idea behind the National Building Competition is to bring these 14 buildings as close to the low-waste Energy Star model as possible by teaching the teams inside how to save.
From department stores to schools to office buildings the 14 contestants were chosen from a pool of about 200 buildings across the US. They are each given an initial EUI number — Energy Use Intensity — which states their total energy use relative to the size of their building. They will be judged on the percent reduction of their EUI at the end of the competition. The building with the highest EUI is the Solon Family Health Care Center in Cleveland, Ohio which starts out with a whopping 318, and the lowest is the Sears building in Glen Burnie, Maryland starting at 105. The buildings will race to the finish line on October 26th to lose weight — oops, we mean waste — trying everything from habit changes to Energy Star products to reduce their total consumption.