Mark Bryan

USGBC National Capital Region shares upcoming Energy Star changes that could affect your projects.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be updating the Energy Star Commercial Buildings methodology and Portfolio Manager Data. We’ve been following these upcoming changes for the USGBC National Capital Region community and want to share this important news with our members.

The EPA is rolling out more details and estimates of the process, even providing a target date of August 26, 2018, as the release of the updated metrics. Even if building energy use is the same, scores will change.Here are the five things you to need to know to help prepare for the change.

1. Updates have been made to several space types.

Up to 100 Energy Star score models will be changed (based on information from the 2012 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey, which was previously updated from 2003):

  • Offices
  • Financial offices
  • Bank branches
  • Courthouses
  • K–12 schools
  • Retail/retail stores
  • Warehouse clubs/supercenters
  • National source energy factors
  • Data center benchmarking options

2. Changes to the electric source factor focus on grid electricity from renewable energy.

Past approach: Grid electricity generated from renewable energy was treated as requiring the same raw fuel inputs as fossil fuel energy.

New approach: Offsite renewables lower the national average electric source factor. Electricity generated from renewable energy sources have lower raw fuel inputs than electricity generated from fossil fuels. The new electric source factor, released in August 2018, is going to have an effect on Energy Star scores and all source energy metrics.

  • It will drop from 3.1 to 2.8 (for a more efficient grid)
  • The Energy Star score could increase or decrease, depending on a building’s fuel-mix ratio.
  • Changes based on this update alone will be comparatively small in magnitude.

3. Working estimates are provided for average Energy Star score changes.

  • Office = -12
  • Bank branch = -10
  • K–12 school = -13
  • Retail (store/wholesale club) = -16
  • Warehouse (refrigerated/nonrefrigerated) = -7
  • Supermarket/grocery = -1
  • Worship facility = -9
  • Hotel = +1

4. EPA will not rescind prior Energy Star certifications.

  • All of your certified properties will still be on their registry.
  • If you have top performers that are not certified, EPA recommends pursuing certification now.

Policy for 2018 only: All buildings that earned 2017 Energy Star certification will be eligible to apply for 2018 certification using a “Year Ending Date” of April 30, 2018 or earlier.

5. A certification timeline has been issued.

Applications submitted

  • Before July 26, 2018 and requiring no significant follow-up or changes will be guaranteed approval and awarded certification using the existing score models.
  • July 26–August 26 may be evaluated using the updated score models, especially if significant follow-up or changes to the application are required.
  • After August 26 will be evaluated using the updated score models.

Just how much Energy Star scores will be affected after the update remains to be seen, but generally, the bar will be raised to hit that magic number of 75.

Further resources

Please also join USGBC National Capital Region at the Montgomery County Energy Summit on April 4 or a day full of sessions on commercial and multifamily energy efficiency, net zero buildings, solar finance, energy resilience and more—all approved for GBCI CEUs and AIA LUs.

Register to attend the event with us