BOSTON – More than 3,200 buildings across the country, including 22 from the Ocean State, are competing in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2012 National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings.
The 22 contestants from Rhode Island, which are part of a total 328 buildings competing from across New England, include 11 Webster Bank Branches, eight Brookdale Senior Living properties, two U.S. General Services Administration properties and one Hill Energy parcel.
The major participants in New England include Webster Bank, which has 161 buildings competing, and the municipality of West Hartford, Conn., which entered 21 of its buildings into the competition.
These buildings are competing to improve energy efficiency and become the biggest energy loser in the annual EPA and Energy Star-sponsored competition.
This is the third year the EPA has hosted the competition, which saw the number of participants nation jump from 14 buildings in 2010, to 245 in 2011 and to more than 3,200 this year.
According to the Department of Energy, commercial buildings are responsible for 18 percent of the country’s energy consumption and industrial facilities use 32 percent. Combined, the two are responsible for 50 percent of the country’s energy use.
Comparatively, transportation sources account for 28 percent of national energy use and residential sources account for 22 percent at an annual cost of more than $100 billion in energy bills.
By improving the energy efficiency of office buildings, hospitals, retail stores and schools, a significant percentage could be achieved, according to the Department of Energy.
Competitors use EPA’s Energy Star online tool, Portfolio Manager, to measure and track their building’s monthly energy consumption.
Last year, West High School in Manchester, N.H. was the New England winner, reducing its energy use by 16 percent and saving nearly $75,000 in energy bills.
“Even school kids know that everyone can do their part to save energy. There are so many common sense steps to save energy in commercial buildings that are the same concept as in our homes,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office in a prepared statement. “We applaud the organizations working hard to reduce their energy use, saving money and reducing emissions at the same time.”