MEP Energy Star CertificationrThe EPA's ENERGY STAR program has been gaining more and more momentum since it began in 1992. Initially a symbol to identify energy efficient products and appliances, an ENERGY STAR certification can now be applied to anything from office equipment or lighting to even new homes, buildings, and plants. With many states and cities implementing mandatory benchmarking programs and emphasizing green design it seems that ENERGY STAR certification is here to stay in a big way. How does this growing initiative work though and what benefits does it afford its participants?

ENERGY STAR is a voluntary government program that allows property owners to monitor their energy consumption to save money and reduce their impact on the environment. Users input their utility data and building information for a given property and the ENERGY STAR portal gives them a score from 1 to 100 rating their energy consumption based on building type and square footage. If a property gets a score of 75 or higher that means that property is eligible to apply for ENERGY STAR certification. A score of 75 indicates that your property is performing better than 75% of buildings of the same category in the nation. Making decisions like turning lights off, using ENERGY STAR rated products and appliances, turning off machines that are not in use, and using heating and air conditioning sparingly will help reduce your energy consumption and increase your ENERGY STAR score. A one percent reduction in energy use corresponds with an approximately one point increase in one's ENERGY STAR score.

ENERGY STAR participation grants users a number of rewards and with 75% of participants stating they would recommend the program it's clear that ENERGY STAR'S merits aren't just smoke and mirrors. ENERGY STAR products generally use 20-30% less electricity than competitors. There are currently over 25,000 ENERGY STAR Certified plants and buildings in the United States. ENERGY STAR certified buildings typically use 35% less energy than average buildings. An ENERGY STAR certification can also translate to an increase in property re-sale value and is attractive to commercial real estate investors.

Another case where ENERGY STAR is a must is with individuals looking to get their properties LEED certified. ENERGY STAR certified buildings have a leg up in the race because, depending on their ENERGY STAR scores, they may automatically receive up to 18 points toward their LEED certification. Oftentimes expensive construction projects are necessary to gain points for LEED, so those 18 extra points mean that property managers will have to make fewer alterations to achieve LEED status. Not to mention the energy savings that are bound to result from their ENERGY STAR participation.

Even mandated ENERGY STAR participation generally has a positive result for users. One area where this is the case is in California, where AB-1103 requires non-residential building owners to report energy usage through ENERGY STAR in the case of a sale, refinance or lease of commercial buildings 5,000 SF and above. In cities and states where businesses are required to disclose their utility data for annual benchmarking the EPA found that benchmarked buildings reduced energy use by 2.4% per year. Again this translates to monetary savings, and with 76% of business decision makers stating "We have to reduce energy consumption if we want to stay competitive from an image perspective", it cannot hurt one's reputation to get involved.

Having trouble understanding why your ENERGY STAR is too low? Finished the benchmarking process and struggling to assess where you are not up to par on energy efficiency? At Maximum Energy Professionals (MEP) we offer a number of energy audits that will help you identify where you can improve your building's energy conservation. ASHRAE Level I and ASHRAE Level II energy audits are available for customers looking to identify problem areas and spots to improve a property's energy efficiency in categories like HVAC design, engineering design, and Mechanical-Electrical-Plumbing systems and controls.

Policies being enacted by state and local governments are making it more important than ever to keep an eye on your energy consumption. Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations requires new construction projects to adhere to the Cal Green building code. With more and more properties falling under the purview of California AB-1103, City of San Francisco Department of Environment and other state and local regulations across the country, the need for energy conservation is only increasing.

Contact MEP today for assistance with your ENERGY STAR, LEED, Energy Audit and M-E-P Engineering Design needs!