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Here's Why ENERGY STAR Scores Are About To Go Down

Don’t panic. Your ENERGY STAR score is about to change, and most likely, it will go down. It's going to be okay.With ENERGY STAR’s latest update to its scoring system for commercial buildings, the baseline for efficient buildings is moving up. This means that the score of virtually every commercial building in the U.S. EPA’s system - more than 450,000 of them - will change in August of this year.The degree and direction of this change will depend on several factors - most notably, the real estate vertical that the building occupies. That means that building owners who are understandably concerned about their lower scores should take heart in the fact that their competitors’ buildings are likely taking a similar hit.

Why is this happening now?

To understand why ENERGY STAR is changing its scoring model, you have to first understand that ENERGY STAR uses a percentile scoring system - not an absolute one. That means that each building’s score represents a comparison between it and comparable buildings on a scale of 1 to 100.Naturally, ENERGY STAR can’t reevaluate every building in a category when it assigns a new building a score, so it conducts large-scale surveys at regular intervals that form the basis of its scores. Currently, ENERGY STAR is using a 2003 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) dataset, but will be moving to the 2012 dataset that recently became available in August.

How will this affect your portfolio?

ENERGY STAR has released a table detailing how it affects the average building in each vertical will be affected by the new rating. The majority are going down, though the hotel category is expected to see a modest increase.Keep in mind that, while this represents the average change, each individual building will be affected depending on its own specific performance. Any one building may see a decrease in score, an increase, or no change at all. Both present scores and historical data will be updated to account for the change.Average Score Change:

  • Offices: -12 points
  • Retail: -16 points
  • Supermarkets & Grocery Stores: -1 point
  • K-12 Schools: -13 points
  • Bank Branches: -10 points
  • Hotels: +1 points
  • Warehouses: -7 points
  • Worship Facilities: -9 points
What action should you take?

Any ENERGY STAR certifications that are awarded beforethe changeover will continue to be honored, even if the building’s new score would place it in a lower certification level. For that reason, it is in your best interest to certify or recertify your buildings before the new scoring method goes into effect.Depending upon your portfolio’s mix of properties, you may also need to begin gathering additional information to complete future ENERGY STAR certifications after this August. For example, warehouses will need to start tracking gross floor area used for cold storage and worship facilities will need to track gross floor area used for food preparation. Schools have been able to track the number of workers on the main shift for some time now, but they will be required to after August.Because historical data will also be updated in the ENERGY STAR system, building owners who anticipate needing legacy scores for their internal tracking should download that information before the change. That can be done in the ENERGY STAR portfolio manager or in the Aquicore platform.For a more in-depth look at what’s changing, check out the ENERGY STAR website.