The state of ENERGY STAR

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  • November 27, 2018 | Josh Schubert
The state of ENERGY STAR

The state of ENERGY STAR

On August 26th, 2018, the EPA updated the metrics for the ENERGY STAR scoring model based on the most recently available Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). The previous scoring model used data collected in 2003; after the update, the model uses data from the 2012 survey, so ENERGY STAR scores now reflect the most recent performance metrics.

The update impacted ENERGY STAR scores across many real estate sectors; prominent among these were office buildings, which experienced an average decrease of 12 points. Many buildings experienced larger decreases in scores than had been expected; this could be because many buildings differed from the typical model used in the EPA’s analysis, differences in energy use, fuel types, property types, and/or energy demand.

The state of ENERGY STAR: What we saw at Goby

Below are some observations we noticed among the properties in Goby:

  • Among office buildings with pre-update scores greater than 70, we saw an average ENERGY STAR score change of -12.9 points; this is in line with expectations of -12 points estimated by the EPA prior to the change.
  • The largest drop in points observed for an office building was -35, while some office buildings gained as many as 6 points.
  • Office buildings larger than 250,000 square feet experienced larger drops in points compared to the average – they had an average loss of 15 points, compared to an average decrease of 12 points across office buildings of all sizes.
  • The largest average reduction in points occurred in buildings that had an ENERGY STAR score of 75-79 before the update; these buildings showed an average drop of 17 points.
  • The lowest average decrease was seen in buildings that had a score of 95 or higher before the metric change; these buildings lost an average of only 6 points.
  • About half of buildings that had scores greater than 75 and were therefore eligible to apply for ENERGY STAR certification are no longer above that threshold.
  • One third of all affected buildings, across all real estate types, dropped 20 or more points.

There were also differences in average ENERGY STAR score changes for office buildings in different regions:

  • New York: -16.5 points
  • Illinois: -15.7 points
  • Pennsylvania: -14 points
  • Texas: -13.2 points
  • Florida: -11.5 points
  • California: -6.6 points

What’s next?

On September 26th, 2018, the EPA suspended ENERGY STAR certifications for all building types that were affected by the score change; they are now in a review period consisting of three phases:

  1. Listening and engagement: The EPA requested feedback on the new models as well as observations and unexpected trends that users noticed in their portfolio. This phase ended October 10th, 2018.
  2. Analysis based on feedback received: The EPA is reviewing feedback and observations received from surveys completed during the listening phase. They are working with stakeholders to conduct the analysis and determine if adjustments to scoring models need to be changed.
  3. Communication of results: After analysis is complete, the EPA will release the results of the ENERGY STAR metrics update.

The following building types are impacted by the suspension:

  • Office buildings
  • Financial offices
  • Bank branches
  • Courthouses
  • K-12 schools
  • Retail stores
  • Warehouse clubs/supercenters
  • Supermarkets
  • Hotels
  • Warehouses
  • Houses of worship

These phases are being completed on a rolling basis by property type; once a property type’s model has completed the review process and been reevaluated, those applications will be accepted again. The EPA is expecting to reinstate certifications in early 2019. While an exact plan has not been worked out, the EPA is also extending the deadline for 2018 applications for suspended property types, but the official date has not yet been released at the time this post was published.

Did anything else change?

Data center estimates have been brought back to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. This option is intended for data centers housed within other property types where it’s impractical or impossible to measure IT energy use. The estimates are calculated using the data center’s gross floor area, but will only apply up to 10% of your building’s gross floor area (GFA). For example, if your data center is 20% of the building’s GFA, estimates will be applied as if it were 10%. It is still recommended that IT energy is metered separately when possible.

Additionally, the source energy factor for electricity has been updated to account for improved grid efficiency. The new factor will impact the ENERGY STAR score and source energy metrics. The score could either increase or decrease depending on a building’s fuel mixture.

Moving forward – How to improve your ENERGY STAR score

  1. Work with Goby to ensure your property’s ENERGY STAR profile is up-to-date and accurate
  2. Set a target using the Goals section of ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager
  3. Perform an energy audit
  4. Check our best practice guide for ENERGY STAR excellence

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 building certification and has a role in technical sales support. He is also part of the EPA's Most Active Licensed Professionals group.

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