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State and Local Climate and Energy Program

Energy Efficiency in Government Operations and Facilities

Building Energy Efficiency for Local Governments

Energy used by commercial and industrial buildings in the United States is responsible for nearly 50 percent of our national emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that contribute to global climate change. Local governments can lead by example and achieve substantial energy cost savings across their facilities, demonstrate energy and environmental leadership, and raise public awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency to reduce GHG emissions.

State and local government agencies spend more than $10 billion a year on energy to provide public services and meet constituent needs. Local governments grapple with tightening budgets, but nearly one-third of the energy used to run typical government buildings can be conserved.

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Increasing the Efficiency of Buildings

Guidelines for Energy Management

Flowchart showing the steps listed below.

EPA offers a proven strategy for superior energy management with tools and resources to help each step of the way. Based on the successful practices of ENERGY STAR partners, these guidelines for energy management can help local governments improve energy and financial performance while distinguishing themselves as an environmental leader.

Approaches to Improving Efficiency in Government Operations and Facilities

Benchmark Building Performance: Local governments can increase building energy efficiency by 10, 20, and 30 percent through effective energy management practices that involve assessing energy performance, setting energy-savings goals, and regularly evaluating progress. Municipalities can use EPA’s no-cost ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to:

  • Identify under-performing buildings to target for energy efficiency improvements
  • Establish baselines to set goals and measure progress for energy efficiency improvement projects over time
  • Monitor energy efficiency improvements compared to a baseline and track reductions in GHGs
  • Document reductions in energy use, GHG emissions, water use, and costs for an individual building or an entire portfolio

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 buildings, through both required policy measures and voluntary campaigns (PDF).

Implement Energy Efficiency Purchasing: Products that have earned the ENERGY STAR label help local governments save energy and money without sacrificing performance. By using less energy, these products also help reduce GHG emissions–caused by the burning of fossil fuels at power plants–that contribute to global warming. ENERGY STAR procurement resources are available to help local governments implement energy efficiency purchasing (PDF) (40 pp, 3.5M, About PDF) policies with savings calculators, product specifications, sample procurement contract language, and case studies.

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Tools and Resources

Visit ENERGY STAR Buildings & Plants to see the full list of ENERGY STAR resources for commercial buildings.

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.

ENERGY STAR for Wastewater Plants and Drinking Water Systems
EPA's ENERGY STAR program offers expanded energy efficiency tools and resources to help eliminate energy waste and lower operating costs of water and wastewater utilities. Managers of drinking water systems and wastewater treatment plants can now track energy use, energy costs, and associated carbon emissions by using Portfolio Manager, EPA's online benchmarking tool.

ENERGY STAR Qualified Products
Products in more than 60 categories are eligible for the ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR qualified products use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. Local governments can implement energy efficiency purchasing policies to save energy and reduce GHGs. Implementing ENERGY STAR Power Management features also saves energy, money, and helps protect the environment.

Guidelines for Energy Management
EPA offers a proven strategy for superior energy management with tools and resources to help each step of the way. Based on the successful practices of ENERGY STAR partners, these guidelines for energy management can help local governments improve energy and financial performance while distinguishing themselves as an environmental leader.

Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series
The Local Government Climate and Energy Strategy Series provide a comprehensive, straightforward overview of local government greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction strategies. Staff can use these guides to plan, implement, and evaluate climate and energy projects. Each guide provides an overview of project benefits, policy mechanisms, investments, key stakeholders, and other implementation considerations. Examples and case studies are incorporated throughout the guides. Topics covered in the guides include energy efficiency, transportation, urban planning and design, solid waste and materials management, and renewable energy.

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.

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ENERGY STAR Publications

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) (2 pp, 94K), posters (PDF) (1 p, 782K), and notepads (PDF) (1 p, 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) (2 pp, 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) (2 pp, 3.1MB) 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) (12 pp, 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.

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