When It Comes To Buildings, Who Is America's Biggest Loser?

The EPA writes about its Working off the Waste with EnergyStar Competition:

From March Madness and Monday Night Football to American Idol and Survivor - we love a good game. This facet of American culture added the final dimension to EPA's strategy--a head to head competition. Put a diverse group of buildings on a diet, add a dash of spirited rivalry and a little national media attention, and you've got an idea that could help raise awareness and spur greater energy efficiency in the buildings where Americans work, play, and learn.

The results are in, and the biggest loser is Morrison Hall, a student residence in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It slimmed down its energy use by a convincing 35.7%.
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It is an interesting competition because in many ways, they are comparing apples to oranges. The EPA measured the reduction in EUI, or Energy Use Intensity, or energy consumed in a year in thousands of BTUs divided by the floor area. So the Sears Glen Burnie store, the second prize winner, was starting at a much lower energy use intensity than Morrison Hall, which was a huge energy hog by comparison. For Sears, simply changing their lighting accounted for 25% to 35% of their energy reductions.

Morrison had a bigger task:

Morrison Residence Hall reduced its energy use through a combination of energy efficiency strategies, including improved operations and maintenance as well as outreach to dormitory residents. A computer touch-screen monitor in the dormitory's lobby helped Morrison residents and the energy team at UNC keep track of energy consumption. Competitions between floors in the dorm to see who could save the most energy encouraged students to turn off lights and computers, and friendly reminders were posted in elevators, bathrooms, and common areas. Improvements to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, as well as lighting improvements, helped to increase the building's energy efficiency and maximize savings..

If there are any caveats about this competition, it is the complete ignoring of context and transportation energy intensity. Of the 14 competitors, quite a few are malls and suburban office structures; taking the equivalent of 940 cars off the road is a drop in the bucket compared to what drives into these places every day. The Sears Glen Burnie store reduced its energy intensity by 31.7%, but didn't take a car off the road or reduce our dependence on oil by an ounce. Perhaps next year the EPA should work transportation intensity in as a criterion; I suspect the results would be very different.

More at Environmental Protection Agency

Tags: Design Competitions | Energy Efficiency

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