EPA’s National Building Competition aims to get buildings into shape

Fourteen buildings from across the U.S. are going head-to-head to work off their waste and reduce their energy use the most to win EPA's first-ever National Building Competition. EPA is hoping to demonstrate how organizations of all shapes, sizes, and means can save energy, save money, and fight climate change by tightening their energy belts.

By Source: Environmental Protection Agency August 30, 2010

Fourteen buildings from across the U.S. are going head-to-head to work off their waste and reduce their energy use the most to win EPA’s first-ever National Building Competition. From a skyscraper in New York City to an elementary school in the mountains of Colorado, these teams from around the country are working hard to slim down their energy use.

EPA is hoping to demonstrate how organizations of all shapes, sizes, and means can save energy, save money, and fight climate change by tightening their energy belts.

Check out our gallery of the 14 contestants and learn more about each facility’s energy savings efforts. Watch the YouTube video above to meet the contestants. Follow your favorites to find out which team flexes their energy muscles the most and takes home EPA’s top prize!

At the halfway mark of the competition, the Morrison Residence Hall on the University of North Carolina’s campus in Chapel Hill, N.C. is the leader with an energy-use reduction of 19.2%. The buildings are rated based on an energy use intensity (EUI) scale. The EUI scale is a unit of measurement that describes a building’s energy use and the EUI represents the energy consumed by a building relative to its size. A building’s EUI is calculated by taking the total energy consumed in one year (measured in kBtu) and dividing it by the total floor space of the building. For example, if a 50,000-square-foot school consumed 7,500,000 kBtu of energy last year, its EUI would be 150. A similarly sized school that consumed 9,000,000 kBtu of energy last year would have a higher EUI (180) to reflect its higher energy use. Generally, a low EUI signifies good energy performance.

Mid-Point Standings

Morrison Residence Hall – Chapel Hill, N.C.

EUIStarting EUI: 213

Mid-Point EUI: 172

Reduction: 19.2%UNC at Chapel Hill students have long favored this dorm, despite its old age. Housing 800 students, Morrison Hall was the first building on campus to install solar panels and is home to the campus’s Sustainability Living Learning Community. Still, the dorm is not performing at its peak. Can this group of sustainability-minded students pull together, help lower the dorm’s energy use, and take the top prize? Learn more about Morrison Residence Hall.

Sears Glen Burnie – Glen Burnie, Md.

EUIStarting EUI: 105

Mid-Point EUI: 86

Reduction: 18.3%Sears sells more ENERGY STAR qualified appliances than any other retailer, helping its customers save energy and money at home. Now the company’s store in Glen Burnie is stepping up. Starting in September, staff replaced inefficient lighting with new lumen lighting and trained employees on effective ways to manage energy use in the store. Will Sears show its customers that it can walk the walk, too? Learn more about Sears Glen Burnie.

1525 Wilson Boulevard Building – Arlington, Va.

EUIStarting EUI: 297

Mid-Point EUI: 246

Reduction: 17.2%Situated at the top of a hill just across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capitol, this 12-story office building has pursued aggressive energy efficiency upgrades since 2004. Has it already maxed out its efficiency potential? Can it take its energy-efficient game to the next level, leading the pack and delivering a knock out blow to the competition? Learn more about 1525 Wilson Boulevard Building.

JCPenney Store # 1778 – Orange, Calif.

EUIStarting EUI: 165

Mid-Point EUI: 138

Reduction: 16.1%The manager at this JCPenney store posts daily store energy use reports for all associates to see, including comparisons to the company’s other stores. Not wanting to be bested by their peers, the manager and associates snapped into action and the store is now using 35% less energy than it was last year. Can they deliver another year of big back-to-back savings and take out the competition? Learn more about JCPenney Store # 1778.

Van Holten Primary School – Bridgewater, N.J.

EUIStarting EUI: 150

Mid-Point EUI: 133

Reduction: 11.3%Students and teachers at this New Jersey school stay on their toes when the Schools for Energy Efficiency® (SEE) Squad comes around. This group of students monitors energy use and reminds staff and students of good energy behaviors. The Board of Education, principal, lead custodian, and energy coordinator are also supporting upgrades of lighting and controls, all with the hope that their school will one day earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR label. Can everyone band together to eliminate the waste? Learn more about Van Holten Primary School.

522 5th Avenue – New York, N.Y.

EUIStarting EUI: 242

Mid-Point EUI: 220

Reduction: 9.2%Originally constructed in 1896, this Class A Midtown office building has recently undergone a facelift. Some say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but the building’s new management team has made energy efficiency a priority. Can this more than 100-year-old building beat out the young upstarts and lower its energy use enough to win the competition? Learn more about 522 5th Avenue.

Maplewood Mall – St. Paul, MN

EUIStarting EUI: 228

Mid-Point EUI: 217

Reduction: 4.7%You know how expensive it is to heat, cool, and illuminate your home. What if your home were roughly 250 times the size it is now? You’d probably be doing what Maplewood Mall has been doing since 2003; namely, trying to be as energy efficient as possible. All mall managers are trained in reducing energy costs, and energy savings are part of the operations director’s annual goal. Will Maplewood Mall be able to lower its energy use enough to win the competition? Learn more about Maplewood Mall.

Crystal River Elementary School – Carbondale, Colo.

EUIStarting EUI: 186

Mid-Point EUI: 178

Reduction: 4.5%Don’t let the backpacks and sneakers throw you off; twelve middle school math students make up the all-star Energy Team for Colorado’s Roaring Fork School District. They’re leading their teachers, custodians, and maintenance staff in a comprehensive Advanced Energy Management program with the goal of earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR label. Can this pint-sized team pack a professional-grade punch when it comes to saving energy? Learn more about Crystal River Elementary School.

Memorial Arts Building at Woodruff Arts Center – Atlanta, Ga.

EUIStarting EUI: 280

Mid-Point EUI: 270

Reduction: 3.6%In 1962, Atlanta lost the leaders of its civic and arts community in a devastating plane crash. Citizens and city leaders channeled their collective grief into the construction of the Woodruff Arts Center as a memorial to these lost leaders. Now, more than four decades later, they’ve set their sights on "greening the arts." Can this building let its creative flag fly high while lowering its energy bills? Learn more about Memorial Arts Building.

Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown – San Diego, CA

EUIStarting EUI: 162

Mid-Point EUI: 157

Reduction: 3.0%Occupying an old 1920s bank building in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp District, the Courtyard by Marriott retrofitted guest rooms and common areas with efficient sensors and technology. The hotel staff has formed a "Green Team" and offers guests eco-friendly options. Does this historic landmark have more ideas up its sleeve to lower its energy use and win the competition? Learn more about Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown.

Virginia Beach Convention Center – Virginia Beach, Va.

EUIStarting EUI: 229

Mid-Point EUI: 222

Reduction: 2.9%At Virginia Beach Convention Center, energy use is all-or-nothing. During events, thousands of visitors flood the space, needing bright lights, monitors, speakers, and computers. After the last visitor is gone, the building goes quiet and young engineers’ minds turn to thoughts of energy efficiency. With such unconventional needs, can VBCC make it through this summer’s hot events and still capture the competition lead? Learn more about Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Tucker Residence Hall – Raleigh, N.C.

EUIStarting EUI: 172

Mid-Point EUI: 170

Reduction: 1.3%At NC State University, students like to hold competitions to see which dorms are the most resource efficient. Now the entire campus is rallying behind Tucker Residence Hall, a 63-year-old dorm housing NC State’s first-year college program. With one floor equipped with smart technology in the common areas, and another floor set to receive super-efficient LED lighting, this building seems like it has a leg up on the competition. Is it a shoo-in to beat out its competitors by reducing its energy use the most? Learn more about Tucker Residence Hall.

Sheraton Austin Hotel – Austin, Texas

EUIStarting EUI: 203

Mid-Point EUI: 205

Reduction: -0.8%This Austin hotel celebrates Earth Hour by asking guests to turn off their lights and TVs and join staff in the lobby for acoustic music. The Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol also goes green year-round through monthly energy audits, lighting retrofits, and an option for guests to opt-out of housekeeping services in exchange for a $5 coupon. They’ve got all the right moves, but is it enough to win? Learn more about Sheraton Austin Hotel.

Solon Family Health Center – Cleveland, Ohio

EUIStarting EUI: 318

Mid-Point EUI: 322

Reduction: -1.4%The Cleveland Clinic believes that having the best healthcare in the country is not enough if its patients can’t afford it. To reduce patient costs and continue its practice of providing uncompensated healthcare to the poor, the Solon Family Health Center started looking at energy costs. The staff improved maintenance procedures and made upgrades, and they even help employees fund their own energy-saving project ideas. Can they root out enough inefficiencies to compete on the national stage? Learn more about Solon Family Health Center.