ENERGY STAR Scores Plummet Across DC Buildings:

How to Bounce Back

The ENERGY STAR program for buildings and plants is a national program run by the EPA, which benchmarks a building’s energy performance against average building consumption.  This program takes user input, building data, and utility bills to calculate a building score from 1-100, which corresponds with the building’s overall energy performance. In August, ENERGY STAR scores dropped dramatically when using the same building data due to the incorporation of newer Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) data into the benchmarking calculations.  CBECS data is collected and published by the US Energy Information Administration every four years.

What caused ENERGY STAR scores to drop?

Overall, buildings became more efficient.  ENERGY STAR uses data collected by Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) to compute benchmarking scores for various building types. CBECS data is collected and published by the US Energy Information Administration every four years. Before August, ENERGY STAR used 2003 survey data, they recently updated to the 2012 data. The 2012 CBECS data includes more efficient buildings and a larger sample size which impacted overall scores. With the update, most building categories saw a notable change in score. The average score changes for select categories include: ­

  • Retail: -16 points
  • Offices: -12 points
  • Hotels: +1 point
  • Schools: -13 points
  • Banks: -10 points
  • Supermarkets: -1 point

Due to larger than expected score reductions, ENERGY STAR has suspended certifications for space types affected by the CBECS update. During this time, ENERGY STAR plans to check the data and calculations, confirming they accurately represent building energy use and can be used to reward those buildings that outperform national averages.  Since the length of this suspension is unclear, applicants will receive an extension beyond the normal deadline to submit applications. Multifamily, hospitals, data centers, senior care, and manufacturing facilities remained unaffected, so they must meet the November 15, 2018 deadline. The EPA is working to reinstate certification as soon as possible, with an early 2019 deadline under consideration.

Next Steps:

  • Look for opportunities to save energy in your building, such as implementing occupancy sensors and making smart lighting choices. Lighting is one of the easiest and most impactful places to cut energy usage.
  • Investigate using sensor technology to shut off non-critical tenant plug loads.
  • Schedule an Energy Audit with GHT’s Operations and Energy Services (OES) Team.

For more tips and a course of action to get your building back on track with ENERGY STAR, contact our OES Studio at

As an Operations and Energy Services Representative for GHT, Catherine Jones supports our clients in developing solutions for long-term energy efficiency.