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EPA Findings Will Improve ENERGY STAR Scores in Office Buildings

Great news for buildings using ENERGY STAR to benchmark and earn recognition for energy performance: Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed its months-long review of its current ENERGY STAR scoring model for office spaces, which was implemented in August 2018 and which caused scores in office buildings to drop, particularly in cold climates. The EPA will describe its findings on July 15.

Although the details are not yet available, the EPA has disclosed that it will once again adjust scores according to heating degree days (HDD) to better account for energy consumption during heating season. Once the new model is finalized, the EPA expects scores for offices in cold climates to increase. Updated property scores will be live online in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager on July 22, and the certification process will be reinstated on July 31.

This long-awaited announcement signifies a light at the end of the tunnel for eager building owners and operators who use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark and certify their buildings. After the scoring model was updated in August 2018, the dramatic drop in building scores for many buildings prompted blowback from stakeholders. The EPA suspended scoring and certification with ENERGY STAR until it completed a review of the updated model.

What does this mean for office buildings? According to the EPA’s announcement, offices in cold climates can expect an increase in score, and no buildings will experience score decreases. Be aware, however, that scores may not return to what they were before the August 2018 update, so energy performance improvement efforts are still important, especially for buildings whose scores fell below the 75-point minimum needed for ENERGY STAR certification after the update.

At ESD, our energy efficiency engineering team will continue offering our suite of services to improve building energy performance and help clients meet their benchmarking and reduction goals. ESD will work with our clients to take actionable steps like retro-commissioning, monitoring-based commissioning, energy audits, and other measures to achieve energy savings results. For buildings hoping to earn their ENERGY STAR certification, we will resume our certification verification services.

Expect to hear more as further information becomes available. The EPA’s review findings will be posted at www.energystar.gov/scoreupdates.

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