ENERGY STAR® Designates High-Efficiency Buildings

November 11, 2003

In a flurry of recent activity, several federal facilities have been designated as ENERGY STAR® buildings. ENERGY STAR®, a joint DOE and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary labeling program, promotes energy-efficient choices. For buildings, energy consumption is benchmarked on a 0 to 100 scale. Buildings earning a score of 75 or greater while maintaining an acceptable indoor environment qualify for the award.

Department of Veterans Affairs

In May, a ceremony was held at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Headquarters, Washington, DC, to celebrate the award of ENERGY STAR® building rating to 18 VA medical centers. Presenting the awards were David Garman, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy (DOE); Christie Whitman, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and Anthony Principi, Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The medical centers recognized are in the top 25 percent in energy performance among all hospitals in the United States. The VA medical centers were identified and qualified for the award through a joint effort by the VA, FEMP, the EPA, and DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. An interagency team comprised of Beverly Dyer, FEMP; Terry Sharp, ORNL; Raj Garg, VA; and Clark Reed, EPA, benchmarked every VA hospital in the United States. The ENERGY STAR® evaluation involved more than 150 VA medical centers with approximately 150 million square feet of hospital space.

Medical facilities are one of the most energy intensive building types, using energy at twice the rate of office space and three times the rate of schools. In the federal sector, there are more than 200 hospitals in the United States, which represent approximately 13 percent of the energy used in all federal buildings.

"Now more than ever before, it is critical that we provide federal leadership to save money through smart energy practices in our nation's hospitals. These scarce resources can be better applied to serving the medical needs of our veterans and all Americans," said Assistant Secretary Garman.

VA hospitals comprise 70 percent of the medical facilities that have received the ENERGY STAR® label. In terms of real energy and financial benefits, the 18 VA hospitals that achieved the rating are saving more than 1 trillion Btu of energy annually, equivalent to more than $100 million in cost savings in the next 10 years compared to the average hospital.

The award-winning hospitals are Hunter Holmes McGuire VAMC, Richmond, VA; VA Puget Sound Healthcare-Seattle, WA; Boise VAMC, ID; Central Arkansas Veterans Health Care System-Little Rock; Louis A. Johnson VAMC, Clarksburg, WV; North Arizona VAMC-Prescott; Philadelphia VAMC, PA; VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System-University Drive, PA; Wilmington VAMC, DE; Portland VAMC, OR; South Arizona VAMC-Tucson; Connecticut VAMC, Westhaven; VA Palo Alto Health Care System, CA; New Mexico VA Healthcare System-Albuquerque; VA Boston Healthcare System-Jamaica Plain Campus, MA; VA Northern Indiana Health Care System-Fort Wayne Campus; Fargo VAMC, ND; and Fort Harrison VAMC, MT.

DOE Germantown Headquarters Building

Receiving a score of 83, DOE's Germantown building became the fifth DOE facility to achieve this recognition. "Achieving the ENERGY STAR® label for the Department of Energy's headquarters building in Germantown, Maryland, demonstrates that the Energy Department is 'walking the walk' and leading by example in energy efficiency," David Garman, DOE Assistant Secretary, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, said at a ceremony held in April. "There is no better place to start than in our own back yard."

In FY 2002, the Germantown facility achieved a 41 percent reduction in energy consumption, as compared to a FY 1985 baseline. For 8 years, the facility has exceeded the goals set forth in Executive Order 13123. The overall savings associated with these efforts is more than $2.5 million. Contributing to the reduction in energy consumption are the following energy-efficient projects:

  • Installation of new roofs with high insulative properties on all buildings.

  • Installation of a building-wide energy management control system.

  • Energy-efficient lighting fixture retrofits.

  • Replacement of all existing windows with low emissivity, argon gas-filled, double- paned, evergreen-tinted windows with thermal-break frames.

  • A new energy-efficient CFC free refrigeration plant.

  • Replacement of motors on the main air handling units with energy-efficient motors.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

In 2003, after some hard work by the staff, DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) received word that two of its office buildings had achieved ENERGY STAR® status. These are two of fifteen buildings in the state of Washington, and the only buildings in eastern Washington, to be recognized.

The two buildings—Sigma II and V—comprise 20,100 square feet and 47,900 square feet (a two- story building), respectively. While Sigma II is exclusively office space, Sigma V is approximately 90 percent office space and 10 percent laboratory space.

PNNL achieved the ENERGY STAR® ratings through a variety of measures. A program to increase energy awareness was implemented and staff were educated about the need to turn off lights and equipment in unoccupied rooms and to turn off their computers when not in use. Over time, fewer lights and equipment were left on. Computer monitors were also set by the internal PNNL network to go into hibernation after 20 minutes of non-use. In both buildings, occupancy sensors were installed in common areas (conference, lunch, rest, storage, and copy rooms). Also, Watt Stoppers® motion-controlled power strips were distributed to staff to reduce standby power/plug load requirements in offices.

In the Sigma V building, a lighting retrofit from T12 type lighting to more energy efficient T8 lights was implemented, resulting in a savings of 154,163 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity and $6,167 per year (at $0.04 per kilowatt hour). Sigma V achieved an ENERGY STAR® rating of 75, and the energy-efficient measures taken have a payback of 8 years. Energy use has been reduced by 14 percent.

The Sigma II building was 24 years old when two new HVAC systems were installed. Jeff McCullough assumed the role of energy champion for the building to identify and implement no-or low-cost energy saving changes. Office light fixtures were reduced from 4-lamp fixtures to 2-lamp fixtures. Thermostats were checked regularly and adjusted when necessary. Soffit lights were changed to energy-efficient lighting, and water heaters were lowered to 110� F for tanks serving restrooms and 120� F for tanks serving both restrooms and kitchens. These efforts helped staff to become more aware of, and personally engaged in, saving energy. The continued savings in energy use means that staff behavior has been sustained over time. The energy use in Sigma II has decreased by approximately 20 percent when compared to previous years. The building achieved a rating of 79 by ENERGY STAR®.

Mike Moran, the PNNL Facility Energy Program Manager, says "PNNL has demonstrated that hardware upgrades and human leadership are both effective ways to save energy; however, the synergy created by combining both strategies has had the greatest impact on the bottom line."

The ENERGY STAR® award supports President Bush's National Energy Policy, which calls for America to increase conservation efforts, accelerate the protection and improvement of the environment, and enhance our nation's energy security. For more information on ENERGY STAR® visit the program's web site at

For more information on the Germantown office building, please contact Will Prue at 202-586-4537 or For information on the PNNL buildings, contact Mike Moran at 509-372-2680 or For more information on the VA medical centers, contact Beverly Dyer at 202-586-7241 or