You have likely noticed a sudden change to your 1-100 ENERGY STAR score. But don't panic – scores
changed across the board. That's because
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
updated its performance metrics based on
the most recent data available.
Why Scores Changed
On average, ENERGY STAR scores used to
benchmark buildings' energy performance
dropped. The change depends on a building's energy use, fuel mix, business activity,
property type and other factors. But the shift
is partly due to the fact that previous scores
were based on data from 2003.
This data is derived from the Department
of Energy's Commercial Buildings Energy
Consumption Survey, conducted every four
years. The most recent data made available
in 2016, which the EPA is now using for
scores, is based on a 2012 survey.
"In between those two time periods, the
Department of Energy had to take back its
 survey," says Leslie Cook, national
program manager with ENERGY STAR
Commercial Buildings at the EPA. "There
were some issues with methodology. There's
been a bigger gap in our updates than
we've previously experienced. That's partly
why they're seeing a more pronounced
change in the scores. It's been quite a while
since we've been able to update it."
The average decrease in scores signifies
an improvement in the energy performance
of U.S. buildings. "Since our score is a comparison to the market, and the market's more
efficient, it's leading to a shift," Cook says.
Property types with affected scores
n Bank branches
n Financial offices
n Houses of worship
n K- 12 schools
n Retail, including retail stores and whole-
Why Your ENERGY STAR Score Changed
UPDATED PERFORMANCE METRICS LOWERED MOST ENERGY STAR SCORES,
FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT
n Warehouses, including refrigerated, non-
refrigerated and distribution centers
In the graph below, average score changes
are broken down by building type. Schools,
offices and retail will experience the largest
drop in score, while hotels may experience a
slight increase. "People are going to experi-
ence something in that range, but it's not
exactly that for every building," Cook says.
If you're working on a building certification, you may want to submit your previous score. However, if you didn't download
your previous score before the change took
effect, you will not be able to retrieve it in
"We update the metrics," Cook explains.
"So all periods of time that you have in your
account – if the benchmark is, say, 2010 – all
of those metrics and scores are going to be
updated going back in time."
What to Do
ENERGY STAR plans to switch gears not
only to help you understand the changed
scores – but to help you raise them. "We
don't want to just update the metrics and
leave folks hanging," Cook adds. A new slate
of materials will be released to help you find
savings and identify low-hanging fruit.
"The idea is that it will help identify those
buildings to revisit that maybe you thought
were top performers but actually, now that
we've updated the comparisons, there's an
understanding that there are opportunities
One new tool to help find savings is what
ENERGY STAR is calling "treasure hunts," an
audit process that can be done in a day. "We
think that people will take another look at
those buildings and realize that there are a
lot more savings to be found," Cook says.
Sustainability at the
In the 15 years since the ENERGY STAR
performance metrics have been updated,
the focus on sustainability has grown. Cook
says that to be a Class A office building in an
urban setting, for example, it's imperative to
show some commitment to sustainability.
"There's been a growing focus on efficiency overall, both for energy cost savings
and to reduce carbon footprint, compared to
what was going on back in 2003," she adds.
"There's still a lot of work to be done, but it's
a different world in terms of who's paying
attention to their energy bills." B
Sarah Kloepple sarah.kloepple@buildings.
com is a staff writer for BUILDINGS.
WHAT'S YOUR NEW ENERGY STAR SCORE? Most Portfolio Manager users likely
noticed a drop the first time they logged in after Aug. 26. U.S. buildings are generally improving energy efficiency, according to the most recent Commercial Buildings
Energy Consumption Survey, so buildings that are benchmarked against the average
must now find new efficiency strategies to stand out from the crowd.
Updated 1-100 ENERGY STAR® Scores