US Cities With the Most ENERGY STAR Certified Buildings in 2021

Jahnavi Sajip
Author : Jahnavi Sajip
July 27, 2021
9 Minutes Read
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KEY TAKEAWAYS

- The five cities with the most ENERGY STAR buildings in 2021 are Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta and New York.

- New York City uses ENERGY STAR scores to calculate building energy grades under Local Law 33 of 2018.

- ENERGY STAR Certified buildings have saved their owners more than $5 billion in energy bills, and they have avoided 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

- In total, the ENERGY STAR program and its partners have saved 5 trillion kWh, $450 billion in energy bills, and 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases.

The ENERGY STAR score is a comparative metric, which indicates how a building performs with respect to similar properties. For example, if an office building has a score of 80, it ranks above 80% of similar corporate buildings. To become ENERGY STAR certified, a building must get a score of 75 or higher. Around 6,500 US buildings earned the certification in 2020, and more than 37,000 have been certified so far.

Each year, the US EPA publishes a list of US cities with the most ENERGY STAR Certified buildings. The top five cities for 2021 were Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta and New York. The only newcomer among the top five is San Francisco, taking the place that was occupied by Dallas in 2020.


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In New York City, the ENERGY STAR score is used to determine building energy grades from A to F, which must be publicly displayed. This gives visitors and potential tenants an idea of how the building performs in energy efficiency.

Top 25 Cities for ENERGY STAR Buildings: Full List

The 2021 ranking from the US EPA included the 25 cities listed below. They also published the number of ENERGY STAR Certified buildings in each city, and how they ranked in 2020:

#

City / Metro Area

Certified Buildings

Previous Rank (2020)

1

Los Angeles

587

1

2

Washington, DC

549

2

3

San Francisco

341

6

4

Atlanta

329

4

5

New York

276

5

6

Chicago

237

7

7

Houston

195

10

8

Dallas

194

3

9

Boston

193

11

10

Denver

186

9

11

Seattle

165

13

12

San Diego

164

13

13

Riverside, Calif.

152

12

13

Tampa

152

16

15

Minneapolis

133

19

16

Phoenix

119

8

17

Austin

107

17

18

San Jose

104

18

19

Charlotte

103

23

20

Miami

87

21

20

Philadelphia

87

15

22

Sacramento

77

22

23

Portland

65

n/a

24

Raleigh

54

n/a

25

San Antonio

42

n/a

The commercial building sector represents 18% of US energy consumption, and building owners pay around $190 billion in energy bills each year. However, the ENERGY STAR certification program has been very successful: in total, the 37,000 certified buildings have saved $5 billion in energy bills, while cutting 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • A typical ENERGY STAR building uses 35% less energy than similar properties, while producing 35% less emissions.
  • Certified buildings also reduce their annual operating costs by an average of $0.54 per square foot per year. For example, a 200,000 sf ENERGY STAR building would save around $108,000.

In total, the ENERGY STAR program has saved 5 trillion kWh, $450 billion in energy bills, and 4 billion metric tons of emissions. This includes the building certification and appliance labeling programs, along with the achievements of all ENERGY STAR partners.

Using ENERGY STAR Scores for NYC Building Energy Grades (LL33/2018)

In NYC, ENERGY STAR scores are used in Local Law 33 to calculate building energy grades, according to the following table:

ENERGY STAR Score

LL33/2018 Building Energy Grade

85 - 100

70 - 84

55 - 69

1 - 54

No data submitted

A

B

C

D

F

Note how the minimum score for Grade A is 85, which is higher than the 75 score required for ENERGY STAR certification. In other words, you will not necessarily get an A under LL33 if your building is certified - you may still get a B if the score falls between 75 and 85.

Exempt buildings get grade “N”, which indicates they are not subject to LL33. However, these buildings can still apply for ENERGY STAR certification if their score is at least 75.

Conclusion

ENERGY STAR scores are very useful, since they indicate how a building performs compared with similar properties. This creates a fair benchmark, since different types of buildings have very different energy profiles. For example, an office filled with computers and lighting fixtures will tend to use more energy than an equally-sized warehouse.

Buildings with an ENERGY STAR score of at least 75 can get certified, but they must keep their high performance because scores are recalculated annually. In New York City, ENERGY STAR scores have been very useful when grading building performance under Local Law 33.

Tags Energy Efficiency ENERGY STAR energy savings building energy grades ENERGY STAR Certification

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