Taking a cue from of America’s most popular television shows, “The Biggest Loser,” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is sponsoring a national energy contest entitled “Working off the Waste with Energy Star” among 14 commercial buildings across the country.
The 14 contestants will compete to demonstrate the largest percentage-based energy use reduction over a 12-month period from September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2010. The winning building will be announced in October 2010 in a public ceremony featuring Bob Harper, one of the winners of “The Biggest Loser.”
Quoted in a press release from the EPA , Gina McCarthy, the agency’s assistant administrator for air and radiation said, “It’s time for buildings to tighten their belts, and we’re happy to help them go on an energy diet. Cutting energy use will reduce their monthly expenses and their carbon footprint, showing that environmental protection and economic growth can go hand in hand.”
According to the EPA, an average 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. The EPA’s Energy Star program is hosting the competition, and the energy use of each contestant is being measured by the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager. This interactive energy management tool allows building owners track and measure water and energy consumption online within a building or group of buildings.
The EPA sent out a call for applications to Energy Star partners in January 2010. Any commercial building owned or managed by an Energy Star partner was eligible for the contest. To qualify, organizations must have already started benchmarking monthly energy use of the nominated buildings with the EPA’s Portfolio Manager.
Some of the buildings competing in the contest include Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale, Colorado; a JC Penney store in Orange, California; the Sheraton Austin Hotel in Austin, Texas; the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, Virginia; and the Tucker Residence Hall at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
According to the EPA, specific goals of the competition include:
- Raising awareness among Americans that commercial buildings where we play, work, or learn use an immense amount of energy and contribute to climate change.
- Developing awareness that EPA’s Energy Star program can help improve the efficiency of any kind of commercial building across the country.
- Teach Americans some easy ways to fight climate change in their daily lives.
Tips on conserving energy include using motion and occupancy sensors to ensure lights and air conditioning are used only when needed, upgrading to energy-efficient lighting, and turning off computers and other office equipment at night.
Article by Julie Mitchell appearing courtesy Celsias.