Silent Spring, one of the most influential environmental books ever produced in the 1970s, gave rise to an environmental movement that has had far-reaching effects. Not too long afterwards, pollution and global warming became a focal point for scientists and governments. This awakening of governments and consumers to the possibility that humans are creating dangerous conditions that affect our long-term viability on Earth has led to efforts in renewable energy, sustainable growth, and a host of other programs to reduce human impact on the world. One such program that has been very successful is the Energy Star program supported by the US government.
What is Energy Star?
The program is supported by the U.S. EPA and is a voluntary program to help individuals and businesses save money through better energy efficiency and help protect the environment from climate change. Originally founded in 1992 the program has been revised and updated in 2005. The program is meant to help identify and promote energy efficiency and energy conservation in both products and buildings throughout the U.S. The program targets two main categories, products and buildings, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop and maintain energy conservation and energy saving methods for new homes and buildings. In the product category, Energy Star provides certification that certain products meet laboratory and “off-the-shelf” testing to meet their stringent energy-saving and emission testing certificates.
Buildings Program with Energy Star
The part of the program that focuses on buildings includes residential, commercial and industrial buildings. New homes are required to be built based on the National Program Requirements to receive an Energy Star certification. Commercial and industrial buildings and plants are required to be inspected by certified and licensed engineers and achieve a score of 75 points or higher in order to be registered as an Energy Star building. A commercial or industrial business that hopes to achieve the Energy Star certification must meet efficiency standards in both its processes for building management and total energy and carbon output.
The Case for Businesses
Over 5000 businesses across the U.S. have signed on to the Energy Star program; 35% of Fortune 500 companies, eight out of 10 of the largest healthcare institutions, and other businesses and organizations, from automakers to universities, have all seen the benefits of the program. Businesses that achieve this level of energy conservation are realizing a 35% reduction in energy use that translates into real savings as energy costs continue to rise. These businesses have been able to realize the savings without cutting services, performance or comfort. Most businesses in the program achieve between 2 to 10% energy savings on their entire energy budget, while a school district in the US amazingly saw a 60% reduction in their energy expenditures.
Benefits of Energy Conservation
Besides the mentioned savings in energy costs, which will only grow exponentially over the life of certified buildings and plants, there are many other benefits and goals to the program. One of the most significant benefits is being able to market your company as a truly “green” business. Consumers are starting to realize that some “green” businesses are simply faking it; these are referred to as greenwashing. However, the name Energy Star has become synonymous with quality energy conservation and has authority to back up your marketing claims of a truly green company. Being socially responsible as a company means fighting greenhouse gas emissions, which this program also accomplishes. In order to lease property to the US government, buildings need to be Energy Star certified. Recent studies have shown that rental rates, acid value and occupancy rates are higher in buildings that are certified. As more cities, states and regions implement energy conservation measures, which are mostly based on the Energy Star program, companies will seek to be hedged against those mandates.
An energy or environmental consultancy firm can provide environmental safety assessments and help businesses implement the Energy Star program to ensure compliance with the program and avoid delays in certification or failure to certify.