Energy Star, EPA, Better Buildings Challenge

Tricks to Get Ahead for EPA’s Battle of the Buildings!

You may have noticed that there’s been a lot of hype about Energy Star’s Battle of the Buildings this month. The competition actually started back in January, but they’re starting to publicize it now, in July, to galvanize the competition.

This competition is one of the best ways to save a ton of money on your energy bills with zero initial investment. Right now, you might be in the middle of the competition, having already reached the targets you set in January. You also might be reading this thinking, “Hmm, that sounds familiar. I think I may have signed up for that.” Or, maybe you don’t know anything about the competition and want to know what it’s all about.
This year 5,500 buildings and 112 teams are competing. Here are the tricks you need to leverage your savings over the next five months. Let the games begin.

STEP 1: Engage your tenants.
One thing is for sure: you will not win this competition without your tenants’ support. Many of the zero-cost, easy fixes that reduce energy consumption quickly are in the hands of tenants. They decide which lights stay on, how much water is used, and how often they take the elevators.
Your tenants will love getting involved in the competition if you engage them correctly. At the end of the day, a reduction in energy consumption is going to lower their utility bills. When tenants have autonomy over their bills, they consume up to 30% less energy every month.
Create a competition of your own within your building, and see how much your tenants can help you save. Set a goal for your tenants to reduce the building’s utility bills by 10% over the next five months. If they reach the goal, host a community event with a free BBQ, beer, or ice cream, or you can come up with a few prizes for a raffle. You’ll have a decent budget after saving 10% on your bills.

Over the next few months you can hang short lists of challenges in the elevator. Set them up with three challenges each week, and good habits will start to stick.

For example, challenge them to:


1. Turn off lights in empty rooms.
2. Unplug appliances and chargers you’re not using.
3. Make showers two minutes shorter.


STEP 2: Work with your team for motivation.
This is the first year that teams of 5 or more buildings are allowed to compete together. If you joined a team this year, remember they are counting on you just as much as you are counting on them. Plus, if you joined with the rest of your company such as Whole Foods or Cassidy Turley, winning this competition could forever brand you as green and efficient, enormously increasing the marketability of your entire portfolio.

Take advantage of this opportunity to share best practices and to keep each other on track. Energy Star has included some great ways to advertise your successful in their Competitor Resources Guide.


STEP 3: Take advantage of shoulder months.
If you don’t have lockouts implemented for your building, start them now. In the heat of the summer it’s pretty obvious that your tenants are hot and want the air on. However, the next few months will start to blur lines of hot and cold, making people fight over the thermostat. Without lockouts, you could have heaters and air conditioners running in rooms next door to each other, which will spike your utility bill.

Lockouts can help you make sure that the heat does not go on before the outside temperature is 48 degrees or cooler, and the air  conditioning does not go on until it is 62 degrees or warmer. You’ll avoid coincident runs, and during the beautiful days of fall when it is 55 degrees outside, your tenants will be satisfied by the fresh air being let in by the building’s economizers. There may be a week or two this fall when your building won’t need any mechanical HVAC operation.


BONUS: Everyone’s a winner.

This is one competition where everyone is a winner. And no, that is not another way of saying no one is a winner. Even if you don’t manage to cut half of your bills over the next few months, as the winners have over the last four years, you can still save hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, any building with an Energy Star Score of 75 or higher becomes certified and therefore publicly recognized as efficient and sustainable.

Even if you’re just starting to save energy today, you have plenty of time left in 2014 to significantly decrease your utility bills and increase tenant satisfaction.


Not part of this year’s competition? Join next year.


1.  The competition is FREE.
2.  2013’s competitors saved $20 million on utility bills last year.
3.  Competition and public energy data are motivating.
4.  You get a full year to improve.
5.  Energy Star provides public media to market your success.
6.  You only need to submit data 3 times (beginning, midpoint, and end).
7.  Teams can work together to gain portfolio-wide recognition.





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