The results of 2011’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star National Building Competition to see who could reduce their energy use the most are in, and the major winner is . . . the American public—to say nothing of building owners and managers across the country.

Urban Land Institute (ULI) members did well in the competition, which included 245 entrants from 33 states and the District of Columbia and involved a dozen categories including bank, courthouse, hospital, hotel, house of worship, K–12 school, medical office, office, other, residence hall/dormitory, retail store, and warehouse.

According to Jean Lupinacci, chief of the Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Program, cost savings were pegged at $5.2 million a year. Nearly 30,000 metric tons (33,069 short tons) of carbon dioxide equivalent a year were prevented—equal to the emissions from the electricity use of more than 3,600 homes annually.

“We applaud the efforts of ULI members who are helping to drive energy savings in buildings across America,” says Lupinacci. “We appreciate their participation in this year’s Energy Star National Building Competition and look forward to continuing our strong partnership with these leading organizations.”

Under the competition, the structure realizing the largest percentage reduction in energy use—adjusted for weather and the size of the building—was the winner. The competition included buildings built during the 1800s and those constructed as recently as three years ago, and structures as big as 2.5 million square feet (232,257 sq m) and as small as 5,000 square feet (465 sq m).

Several ULI members finished strong in this year’s competition, Lupinacci adds, noting that:

  • USAA had two of the final 14 office buildings recognized for reducing their consumption by more than 15 percent. These structures—the GSA Social Security Administration building in Norfolk, Virginia, and 350 Las Olas Centre in Fort Lauderdale, Florida—reduced energy use year over year by 24.1 percent and 17.9 percent, respectively.
  • CB Richard Ellis’s North Suburban Office Building in Thornton, Colorado, claimed an eighth-place finish overall with an energy reduction of 33 percent.
  • Jones Lang LaSalle’s property at 99 High Street in Boston, Massachusetts, turned in an impressive 22 percent reduction.
  • Shorenstein Realty Services’ property at 4 Lincoln in Tigard, Oregon, reduced its energy use by 14 percent. 

“The buildings where we work, play, and learn have a big impact on our environment—in fact, they are responsible for nearly 20 percent of our country’s greenhouse gas emissions and use nearly 20 percent of the energy in the U.S. at a cost of more than $100 billion a year,” says Lupinacci. “Improving the energy efficiency of these buildings will help create a healthier environment for families across America.”

The overall winner of the competition was University of Central Florida Parking Garage C in Orlando, Florida, with an energy use reduction of 63.2 percent, followed by Twinsburg High School and Sports Complex in Twinsburg, Ohio, which posted a 46.3 percent reduction.

Top winners in the various categories included banks—USAA Phoenix in Phoenix, Arizona, 4.2 percent—and medical office—the North Suburban Medical Office Building in Thornton, Colorado, with an energy use drop of 33.7 percent.

Overall, the competition was a huge success, officials say. “From changes in behavior to investments in innovative technologies, the results from this year’s competition show that the actions we take to save energy can add up to a huge win for the environment and the bottom line,” says Lupinacci.