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ENERGY STAR Changes: What to Expect in 2018

By now, you may have heard the EPA intends to update its ENERGY STAR program scoring in 2018. If your first question is “Why?“, then you’re in luck as we’re here to shed some light on the rationale behind these changes. If your second question is “What does this mean for me?“, then, by all means, keep reading.

Why are ENERGY STAR scores changing this year?

That’s a fair question. According to

“…EPA is updating performance metrics in Portfolio Manager based on the most recent market data available. This update is part of EPA’s standard process to keep ENERGY STAR metrics as current as possible, and reflective of current market performance.”

For most types of commercial buildings (list below), the standard 1 to 100 ENERGY STAR score is based on the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) conducts this survey every four years or so. The latest CBECS data became available in 2016 and it’s based on the 2012 survey results.

Scores for these building types will be updated:

  • Bank branches
  • Courthouses
  • Financial offices
  • Hotels
  • Houses of worship
  • K-12 schools
  • Offices
  • Retail, including retail store and warehouse club/supercenter
  • Supermarkets
  • Warehouses, including refrigerated, non-refrigerated, and distribution centers

What will change in the August 2018 update?

There are some significant changes and some less-than-significant changes. On the less-significant side of the ledger, the current energy market will be updated and site-to-source conversion factors changed. This will result in buildings not getting a credit or a penalty based on the utility’s efficiency. One important result is that data centers will once again have the option of using estimated IT energy to obtain a score and certification.

More significant are the updates coming to the underlying models and algorithms used to determine ENERGY STAR scores. These will be updated based on CBECS, which will likely lower current and historical scores. Historical scores will change so that tracking changes year-over-year creates a valid comparison. However, and this is another significant change, previous scores will no longer be accessible.

(It’s important to also note that previous certifications will not be revoked even if a building’s revised score falls below 75.)

How can I prepare?

The changes won’t be released until August 26, but there are still a few actions to take now, including:

  • Download your previous year’s applications and SEPs (especially if pursuing LEED certification)
  • Create custom score and metrics reports under the REPORTING tab
  • Make sure your account info is up to date with your correct email address

When can I re-apply for 2018 certification?

The short answer is “your ending date is July 2018” based on two criteria:
  • If you submitted an application with a “Year Ending” date between August 2017 and December 2017
  • If you were awarded certification for the 2017 label year

Schneider Electric has a number of experts in CBECS (both old and new) and we’re happy to assist your organization with recertification. To get started, please contact us.

Contributed by Becky Escobar, Client Support Analyst, Schneider Electric Energy & Sustainability Services