Motivating Energy Savings through the ENERGY STAR National Building Competition

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For more than 20 years, people across the United States have looked to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR® program for guidance on how to save energy, save money, and protect the environment. Behind each blue label is a product, building, or home that has been independently certified to use less energy and cause fewer of the emissions that contribute to climate change.

Over the years, tens of thousands of businesses and organizations have worked with the ENERGY STAR program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create financial value by improving the energy efficiency of their buildings and industrial plants. Along the way, they learned what works and what doesn’t. Among the themes that have emerged over the years: Energy programs save more than energy projects. You won’t get far without a commitment from the top. In addition to starting a program, you also need a plan to sustain energy efficiency. And success depends on whether you can create a culture of energy efficiency within your organization.

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Achieving that culture isn’t always straightforward, but it is valuable – even the most efficient building designs and operating plans rely on occupant behaviors to achieve top-efficiency potential. With this in mind, in 2010, EPA launched its first ever nationwide competition among buildings to help organizations save energy (and water) – the ENERGY STAR National Building Competition. For the past six years, competitors in each “Battle of the Buildings” have used ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®, EPA’s free online tool, to measure and track energy and water consumption, benchmark their performance, and compare that performance to a prior baseline year. The 2015 competition attracted more than 6,500 buildings from all 50 states who threw their hats in the ring and competed to slim down their energy and water “wastelines.” The winning team – a set of buildings at Texas A&M University – managed a spectacular 35.5% reduction in energy usage during the year, for an estimated cost savings of $550,000!

In 2016, the competition is back with an exciting new twist. Instead of a yearlong competition like in past years, the 2016 National Building Competition: BOOTCAMP will be a condensed 90-day sprint to the finish line. From September through November, EPA will provide competing buildings with themed BOOTCAMP training kits full of printable posters, social media posts, energy-saving reminders, door signs, and more. Each training kit focuses on a new energy- or water-saving action. EPA hopes organizations will use the kits to engage employees, students, and other building occupants in tackling energy waste together.

Energy service providers and property management firms are welcome to register buildings on behalf of building owners – in fact, many winning buildings from past competitions achieved their success with help from “coaches” like these! Registration is only open to buildings in the United States, but building professionals in any country are encouraged to download the BOOTCAMP training kits and other ENERGY STAR resources, and use them to help engage occupants in running high-performing buildings.

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If you work with buildings and are looking for a fun way to motivate building occupants and unlock further resource efficiency gains, take note: registration for the 2016 National Building Competition is already open! Buildings can register now through Sunday, July 17 by following the instructions on the ENERGY STAR website at There, you can also find the full competition rules, BOOTCAMP training kits, case studies of past winners, and guidance on using Portfolio Manager. If you’d like to learn more, check out the ENERGY STAR Buildings & Plants Help Portal at to read our FAQs or ask EPA a question.

See you out on the field!


Tracy NarelTracy Narel is the national manager of Commercial & Industrial Solution Provider Partnerships in the ENERGY STAR program at the U.S. EPA. He is responsible for partnership work with utilities and energy service and product providers. He creates opportunities for these partners to leverage the ENERGY STAR brand and program delivery platform in their C&I energy efficiency offerings.


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