Shining a Light on ENERGY STAR in Wisconsin

Between 2000 and 2013, the number of Wisconsin ENERGY STAR certified buildings has increased from 43 to 582, according to a new report titled Leaders in Efficiency: Energy Star Buildings in Wisconsin.  The report, released by Cool Choices—a Madison-based nonprofit organization—in partnership with the Great Plains Institute and the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council, found that 91 percent of all ENERGY STAR certified commercial buildings in the state are k-12 schools, retail stores and office buildings.

Improving energy efficiency saves money and reduces the environmental and health impacts of fossil fuel use. Buildings that measure and track their building’s energy and water usage with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool use an average of 35 percent less energy, saving building owners money. An EPA study found a 7 percent savings over 3 years in 35,000 buildings that benchmarked their buildings using Portfolio Manager.

Nationally, more than 40 percent of the commercial market uses ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.  More than 20,000 buildings performing in the top 25% of buildings of their type nationally have achieved certification. Portfolio Manager is used in more than 5200 Wisconsin buildings.

Milwaukee and Madison areas have the most volume of buildings with ratings and Sun Prairie, Appleton, and Sheboygan have the most Energy Star buildings per capita.  While Wisconsin Energy Star certified buildings represent nearly 72 million square feet of floor space, this is less than 5 percent of commercial building floor space in the state. The study found that buildings 100,000 square feet and smaller account for 65 percent of the certified buildings. Notably, 56 percent of schools in Wisconsin are Energy Star certified, representing more than half of the certified buildings, 44 of which are Milwaukee Public Schools. Menomonee Falls, WI-based Kohl’s Corporation, Target, Sears and J.C. Penney are the leading retailers achieving ENERGY STAR certifications for their stores.