Though the politics can be anything but, Washington, D.C. may actually be efficient after all; efficient in regards to green buildings, at least. The D.C. metro area took second place in a countrywide survey of cities‘ energy-efficient buildings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With 204 commercial buildings that have earned the “Energy Star” rating, 2009′s number two spot ranking is an improvement on last year, when D.C. was ranked fourth. Since the EPA began the survey in 2008, Los Angeles has claimed the top spot. L.A. had 293 energy-efficient buildings in 2009. To achieve the rating, a building’s energy consumption is compared with others of its type. Those buildings rated in the top 25 percent qualify for the “Energy Star” rating.
According to the Washington Post, “A new District law promoting green building practices, coupled with recent debate on Capitol Hill about raising energy efficiency, may have helped motivate area property owners to install energy-saving devices. A federal law mandating that government agencies give preferred status to energy-efficient buildings may have also helped to motivate some property owners.” Director of Communications for the EPA’s building program, Maura Beard, was also quoted as saying,”the Washington area’s energy-saving moves reduced nearly $62 million from energy bills for the year.”
The monetary savings need not apply only to commercial and government buildings, however. In Virginia’s Loudon County school system, some 25 of the school system’s 76 buildings have earned the EPA’s “Energy Star” rating. Wayde Byard simply sums up the benefits to going green. He said the system has reduced energy costs by $34.1 million by making simple changes such as installing devices that automatically shut off lights in unused rooms. According to Byard, “After a few years, it’s free. There were start-up costs incurred in the early ’90s, but since then, it’s been all gravy.” This is in addition to over 36,000 houses worth of carbon emissions that were saved through these simple measures. With budgets of all kinds – including those of school systems – under strain, a little pain now can yield a big gain in the future.
- Justin Manger