At a time when the federal government is debating a drastic shift in budget priorities — changes that would affect billions of dollars in appropriations and have a direct impact on the lives of millions of Americans — the fate of the Energy Star program might seem like a small issue. But Energy Star, one program that may be cut in the new budget, is a vital tool for making organizations more efficient by reducing building energy costs. And that makes it worth defending.
Energy Star offers a variety of resources for facility managers — from expert advice to certified products — but it’s the building benchmarking and certification program that many in our industry mean when they refer to Energy Star: Portfolio Manager, with its 1 to 100 scale, plus certification for buildings that reach 75.
Energy Star is a widely used and powerful tool. We recently surveyed readers about their use of Energy Star — 43 percent reported having used Portfolio Manager. Of those, 51 percent have certified at least one building with Energy Star, and 48 percent have used Energy Star to guide building upgrades. One reason for the success of Energy Star is that it helps make organizations more competitive by reducing costs. Another reason is that the information is at once extensive — covering a wide range of commercial and institutional buildings — authoritative, and free to use. No other source can replicate what EPA and DOE have done.
Of course, Energy Star serves more than just facility managers. If you’ve ever used Energy Star to compare the energy costs of different consumer products, you know how useful it is to have unbiased information to consider. By one estimate, Energy Star enables the United States to cut its energy bill by $30 billion a year.
Energy efficiency has long had bipartisan support. As Congress debates funding for federal programs, it is incumbent on all of us to speak up for what we believe in, including Energy Star. And then to remember, when we go to the polls in 2018 and beyond, how our elected officials voted.
Stating that the government needs to subsidize industry to look after its own best interests is, on its face, ridiculous. Energy decisions are made, like all business decisions, financially. Government can, by regulation, force uneconomic solutions, or by subsidy, shift the economics for a given company or institution, but in the long run, economics will rule.
With the ever increasing cost of energy, it does not require a government labeling requirement to get manufacturer's to provide information on the energy savings advantages of their products.
The federal government m]needs to get back to basics if we are ever to start reducing the $20 trillion national debt.
John, Thanks for your comment. My opinion is that government action is often needed to prevent decisions from being made purely to achieve short-term economic gain, without regard to harm those decisions cause. Climate change is an example. Long-term economic costs of climate change will only rise, but ignoring climate change may be good for the bottom line in the short term. That's why government action is needed. But my larger point is that we all need to stand up for what we believe, and vote that way.