ENERGY STAR expands certifications to medical office buildings

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  • January 5, 2022 | Josh Schubert
ENERGY STAR expands certifications to medical office buildings

ENERGY STAR expands certifications to medical office buildings

Energy usage plays a critical role in an organization's overall ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) policies and environmental footprint. As such, organizations are incorporating renewable energy into their commercial energy mix, looking for best practices for energy independence, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, efforts that include energy tracking, benchmarking, and certifications from industry standards like ENERGY STAR.

In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To date, energy performance ratings have been available to commercial buildings including bank/financial institutions, courthouses, hotels and motels, houses of worship, K-12 schools, office buildings, retail stores, supermarkets, warehouses, data centers, senior care facilities, and wastewater facilities.

U.S. medical office buildings included in ENERGY STAR Certification

In an effort to expand and update the certification process, the EPA recently announced that on February 7, 2022, they will release an improved ENERGY STAR score for medical office buildings in the United States. The new scores will give building owners and managers a more realistic view of how their facility's energy use compares to that of similar facilities across the country.

Alongside the new scoring methodology, medical office buildings will now also be eligible to become ENERGY STAR certified; certification for medical office buildings has been unavailable for the last eight years.

The EPA was able to update the scoring methodology and once again make ENERGY STAR certification available for medical office buildings thanks to the much more recent & relevant dataset. The ENERGY STAR Score for Medical Offices applies to facility space used to provide diagnosis and treatment for medical, dental, or psychiatric outpatient care. The score applies to individual buildings only and is not available for campuses.

Why ENERGY STAR?

Companies use the ENERGY STAR rating benchmark to track and grade their buildings’ energy and water consumption and waste generation as part of their ESG strategy.

ENERGY STAR’s online measurement and tracking tool, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager (ESPM), assists organizations in setting baseline performance goals for a single facility or a portfolio of buildings. Companies can utilize ENERGY STAR certification to demonstrate their commitment to decreasing energy and greenhouse gas emissions while implementing energy-efficient solutions and environmental best practices.

ENERGY STAR scores range from 1 to 100 and are used to compare specific buildings to similar structures across the country. Once a building's efficiency level reaches the requisite score of 75, owners can apply for ENERGY STAR certification.

The objective of the ENERGY STAR score is to provide a fair assessment of the energy performance of a property relative to its peers, taking into account the climate, weather, and business activities at the property. To identify the aspects of building activity that are significant drivers of energy use and then normalize for those factors, a statistical analysis of the peer building population is performed. The result of this analysis is an equation that will predict the energy use of a property, based on its experienced business activities. The energy use prediction for a building is compared to its actual energy use to yield a 1 to 100 percentile ranking of performance, relative to the national population.

The ENERGY STAR benchmarking process

Benchmarking your building's performance is the first step toward energy savings. Companies can benchmark the energy use of any type of building using ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager. Nearly a quarter of all commercial building space in the United States is already benchmarked in Portfolio Manager.

Companies may compare a building's energy use to a yearly baseline, national medians, or similar buildings in their portfolio using the Portfolio Manager measures. The ENERGY STAR score also compares your building's energy efficiency to that of similar structures across the country, taking into account the weather and operating conditions such as square footage, number of workers, operational hours.

Once you’ve benchmarked your building in the tool, companies will be able to:

  • Identify underperforming buildings to target for efficiency improvements
  • Identify best practices from efficient buildings
  • Set investment priorities
  • Verify savings and prevent snapback
  • Share and report performance
  • Earn recognition through an ENERGY STAR certification

Companies can also utilize ENERGY STAR to manage and measure their water use, trash and materials, and greenhouse gas emissions to gain a more comprehensive view of their environmental impact.

The value of ENERGY STAR certification

An ENERGY STAR certification is indicative of top-performing buildings. This means ENERGY STAR certified buildings:

  • Use 35% less energy than similar buildings nationwide, on average
  • Generate 35% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, on average, because they use less energy
  • Typically have higher building valuations; numerous studies demonstrate a sale price premium between 1% and 31% among energy-efficient buildings
  • Have higher occupancy rates and command higher rents
  • Can lease to federal tenants
  • Get better financing terms due to lower default risk
  • Attract environmentally conscious tenants and employees

Buildings that are ENERGY STAR certified are also well-positioned to meet the benchmarking and performance requirements that are now mandated in dozens of cities. Reduced expenses and increased public appeal are among the advantages of an ENERGY STAR certification, as are various financial incentives and assistance programs that are available to companies pursuing clean energy initiatives.

The environmental aspect of ESG is possibly the most essential place to start for energy companies wanting to position themselves positively with investors. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimizing the greenhouse gas effect, limiting flaring, and navigating new emissions regulations are all critical aspects of managing a company's impact and ensuring its investment value and market competitiveness.

A practical guide to ENERGY STAR excellence

ENERGY STAR for commercial buildings is a partnership between the EPA and Department of Energy that helps businesses save by adopting practices that lead to superior energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR’s online measuring and tracking tool, Portfolio Manager, lets building owners benchmark and manage the energy, water, and waste consumption of any property. The online tool can be used to establish the baseline performance of a single building or an entire portfolio of buildings.

Whether you're new to the ENERGY STAR game or a seasoned veteran, this practical guide can help. Read along to learn some best practices for optimizing your portfolio's performance and strategies to ensure you're reporting at your best.

Download guide

Josh Schubert

In 2009, Josh became the very first Goby employee, and has remained with the company ever since. Over the years, he has had many roles in the company, ranging from consultant to director. Currently, Josh oversees ENERGY STAR certifications & has a role in technical sales support. He is also part of the EPA's Most Active Licensed Professionals group.

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