Image via Norcal Blogs
The Energy Star program hit a milestone today--the one millionth efficient home that earned the blue label wrapped building. That's right--the number of pointedly energy efficient homes in the US has hit the seven digit range. And though this comes on the heels of some unfortunate news about the validity of Energy Star ratings, it's nonetheless a hallmark worth noting in the slow but steady ascent to greener policies and consumer choices in the US.The EPA frames the achievement in numbers, emphasizing the amount of money the program has saved consumers:
Since the program began labeling new homes in 1995, Americans have saved $1.2 billion on their energy bills, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 22 billion pounds. This year alone, families living in Energy Star qualified homes will save more than $270 million on their utility bills, while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from about 370,000 vehicles.Which, of course, appear to be impressive numbers--and they are. And I don't blame the EPA for continuing to elevate the Energy Star brand, and hone in on the money-saving potential it holds; it's probably the most recognizable green label in the US.
Now there are over 6,500 builders across the country that build Energy Star homes, and the market for green homes appears to slowly continue to grow. And while some of the doubt that was cast upon Energy Star for not performing checks on many of the products that carry its label will certainly extend to its home building program, the very fact that there are a million such homes--homes designed to appeal to environmentally conscious sensibilities--is a very positive sign that the significance of energy efficiency is being understood and pursued on a larger scale in the US.
Which is good news--energy efficiency is among the least sexy of the pillars of the clean energy movement, but arguably the most immediately important. As Bill Clinton is fond of saying, energy efficiency alone can get us 'most of the way there' in reducing carbon emissions to meet the scientists' targets to avoid the worst of climate change. And the more people Energy Star helps acquaint with this idea--while slashing their electric bills--the better.