Energy STARS – Saving money and the planet

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star National Building Competition attracted 3,000 participants from across the country encouraging public and private enterprises to improve their energy efficiency.  From a nursing home in Skowhegan, Maine to an office park in La Jolla, California, the program was a success and created a model for other businesses to follow.

Overall competitors saved a total of more than 3 billion kBtus of energy and $50 million on utility bills. These savings reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 40,000 homes. The top winner is Demarest Elementary School of Bloomfield, NJ which cut its energy use by a whopping 52 percent in a single year.

In addition to saving energy, the program encouraged water conservation too. A branch of Webster Bank in Brockton, MA, logged an impressive 80 percent water use reduction to come out on top of 500 competitors that also worked to cut water use with help from EPA’s WaterSense program.                                                             

These results came one building at a time – 20 of which were are in Maine. Cedar Ridge Center, a nursing home in rural Skowhegan, reduced its energy use by 58.6 percent, for an annual savings of nearly $16,000.

Cedar Hill Center nursing home in Skowhegan, Maine cut its energy consumption by 58 percent.

A Texas convenience store cut its energy bills by more than $17,000. The first order of business was to be sure all their electronics and equipment was in correct working order. Sounds simple, but it is a commonly overlooked loss center. Then they retrofit the store’s lighting with energy saving bulbs that had the added benefit of brightening the floors.

As the facilities manager of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Courthouse in Newark, NJ Mark Dremel says, “The cliché ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ applies to conserving energy too. You need to spend time and review and oversee the issue if you expect to reduce energy.”  His 20 percent energy reduction efforts paid off on the bottom line too, with $51,400 in annual savings.

Often it is the dollars and cents savings from the facilities departments that are the first step to Corporate Social Responsibility, the “planet” part of the triple bottom line mission. Energy efficiency and sustainable operations are a gateway to other initiatives, engaging employees and contributing to the broader community too.

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About christengraham

President of Giving Strong, Inc. Christen advises businesses, foundations and families for how to make a greater social impact.