Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Energy Efficiency in Non-Governmental Buildings

Bringing Building Energy Efficiency to Your Community

Energy used by commercial and industrial buildings in the United States is responsible for about $200 billion in annual costs and creates nearly 50 percent of our national emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to global climate change. Increasing energy efficiency of U.S. buildings by 10 percent would reduce GHGs equal to the emissions from about 30 million vehicles while improving air quality and saving money.

Typically, municipal operations only account for 5 percent of the total GHG emissions of a jurisdiction. Therefore, local governments have an important opportunity to reduce GHG emissions within their jurisdiction and promote energy efficiency to the building owners throughout the community. EPA, through the ENERGY STAR program, provides local governments with tools and resources to lead by example in their own buildings while promoting increased energy efficiency for other building types.

Promoting Energy Efficiency for Non-Governmental Buildings

Local governments can support increased building efficiency by working with community groups and considering voluntary and regulatory policies.

Work with Other Groups in Your Community: Raising the awareness of the environmental and financial benefits of energy efficiency to all building owners advances local government efforts to protect the climate. ENERGY STAR offers tailored programs to help local officials improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for multiple building types in their community:

  • Architects and Engineers: By 2035, 75 percent of the buildings in the United States will be either new or renovated. Architects have a unique opportunity to change the way buildings use energy and contribute to carbon emissions.
  • Commercial Real Estate: Energy represents 30 percent of the typical office building’s costs and is a property’s single largest operating expense.
  • Congregations: Congregations can more easily improve use of their budget’s energy dollars by reducing energy waste and energy costs, while protecting the environment.
  • Health care: Health care organizations spend over $6.5 billion on energy each year to meet patient needs. Every dollar a nonprofit health care organization saves on energy is equivalent to generating new revenues of $20 for hospitals or $10 for medical offices.
  • Higher Education: ENERGY STAR helps institutions become environmental leaders and save money for repair and renovation, hiring of new faculty, new construction, and other core activities.
  • Hotels and Hospitality: On average, America’s 47,000 hotels spend $2,196 per available room each year on energy. Reducing energy use by 10 percent across the hospitality industry would save $285 million.
  • Manufacturing and Industry: More than 30 percent of all energy used in the United States is consumed by manufacturing operations. Whether making steel, refining oil, or canning vegetables, there is a lot of room for improving energy efficiency throughout the industry.
  • Retail: Of all the commercial buildings in the United States, retail buildings account for the largest energy costs–nearly $20 billion each year–and are also responsible for the second largest percentage of GHG emissions leading to global climate change.
  • Schools: The annual energy bill to run America’s primary and secondary schools is a staggering $6 billion–more than is spent on textbooks and computers combined.
  • Small Businesses: Small business owners can typically save as much money and prevent as much pollution, per square foot, as large organizations.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants are energy-intensive operations due to cooking equipment, heating, cooling, lighting, and sanitation. Restaurants that investment in energy efficiency can realize up to a 30 percent return.

Consider Voluntary Programs and Regulatory Policies: Local governments across the country are taking bold steps to protect the environment and lower energy costs by adopting energy efficiency policies that leverage EPA’s ENERGY STAR tools to reduce energy use in commercial buildings, through both required policy measures and voluntary campaigns (PDF). (4 pp., 131K, About PDF)

Top of page


Tools and Resources

Building Upgrade Manual
The ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual is a strategic guide that can help local governments implement profitable energy saving building upgrades. Governments can maximize energy savings by sequentially following the five building upgrade stages: retrocommissioning, lighting, supplemental load reduction, air distribution systems, and heating and cooling upgrades.

ENERGY STAR for Government
ENERGY STAR for Government provides local governments a proven energy management strategy and no-cost tools to save energy and money and demonstrate environmental leadership. The program provides information on how to integrate ENERGY STAR in ARRA-funded projects and access model government efficiency policies and programs that leverage ENERGY STAR tools like Portfolio Manager and Target Finder.

Online Training
ENERGY STAR offers free online training to help local governments improve the energy performance of their operations. Training is available through a variety of formats including live web conferences, animated presentations, pre-recorded trainings, and self-guided presentations.

Portfolio Manager
Portfolio Manager is a Web-based resource that benchmarks the performance of commercial buildings on a scale of 1-100 relative to similar buildings nationwide using EPA's national energy performance rating system. Buildings rating 75 or greater may qualify for ENERGY STAR. The tool's data on short- and long-term trends in energy performance can be used to make budget and management decisions regarding investments in energy-related projects. A Statement of Energy Performance is provided for each building, summarizing important energy information and building characteristics.

Target Finder
Local governments can use this Web-based tool to assist with energy management planning during the design phase of building construction. Target Finder allows planners to set an aggressive energy performance target for building design and compare estimated energy consumption to the established target. The tool can provide direction during the design process and facilitate the evaluation of a range of energy efficiency measures to achieve energy and cost goals.

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.


Many ENERGY STAR publications can be ordered free of charge. Brochures include:

Bring Your Green to Work
ENERGY STAR “Bring Your Green to Worktip cards (PDF) (2pp., 94K), posters (PDF) (1p., 782K), and notepads (PDF) (1p., 45K) are available to raise employee awareness about how energy efficiency helps protect the climate and offers tips on making smart energy choices during the work day.

ENERGY STAR Challenge Toolkit
Spread the word with ready-to-use communication materials such as energy saving info cards, co-brandable posters and print advertisements, public service announcements, and a wide variety of ENERGY STAR publications and brochures – all downloadable in the ENERGY STAR Challenge Toolkit.

ENERGY STAR Office Equipment
The ENERGY STAR Office Equipment (PDF) (2pp., 176K) brochure provides an overview of ENERGY STAR qualified office equipment and provides tips on ways to save energy.

ENERGY STAR Resources for Buildings
The Quick List of ENERGY STAR Resources for Buildings (PDF) (2pp., 3.1M) fact sheet provides an at-a-glance list of ENERGY STAR resources and tools for increased efficiency in commercial buildings.

Join Us in the Fight Against Global Warming
The Join Us in the Fight Against Global Warming (PDF) (12pp., 702K) consumer brochure provides action that residents in a community can take to save energy, save money, and help fight global warming at home at and work.

Working with Different Groups in the Community
ENERGY STAR offers a series of fact sheets on Working with Different Groups in the Community to help local government promote energy efficiency to a wide variety of building owners in the community. These fact sheets provide information on energy use, energy efficiency opportunities, partnership possibilities, and key leverage points for major sectors.


The ENERGY STAR Challenge is a national call to action to improve the energy efficiency of America’s commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent or more. Local governments can use the free Challenge Toolkit to help engage commercial businesses in their jurisdiction.

Low Carbon IT Campaign (Power Management)
The ENERGY STAR Low Carbon IT Campaign is a nationwide effort to assist and recognize organizations for reducing the energy consumed by their computers and monitors.

Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR
Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR is a national campaign encouraging all Americans to make changes at home, at work, and in their communities with ENERGY STAR qualified products and energy-efficient practices.

Top of page

Jump to main content.