Green Bragging Rights: Cities with the Most Energy Star Buildings

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Good schools, high employment and low crime used to be the bragging (or shame) points for city mayors. Now green and clean energy also tops the list. This week the Environmental Protection Agency offered up another metric for mayors to consider when comparing their energy performance to others:  How many  Energy Star buildings are within your borders?

Among large cities, Washington, D.C. topped the 2015 list with 480 Energy Star buildings, followed close behind by Los Angeles with 475 buildings and then Atlanta with 328 buildings. (Scroll to full list below.)

Among mid-sized cities, the top three were in Virgina Beach/Norfolk/Newport News, Virginia with 81 buildings; San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, California with 70 buildings; and then Austin/Round Rock, Texas with 65 buildings.

Odessa, Texas was number one for small cities, with 31 buildings. All of the Energy Star buildings in Odessa are schools and school administration offices. They total 3.1 million square feet, and have saved $2.4 million in energy costs, the equivalent of the annual electricity use of 1,800 homes.

Number two for small cities was Daphne/Fairhope/Foley, Alabama with 27 buildlings. Third place went to Sioux City, Iowa with 24 buildings.

In all,  25,000 buildings across America have won Energy Star designations since 1999. The EPA says that the buildings have saved nearly $3.4 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions from the annual electricity use of nearly 2.4 million homes.

The federal government has been putting a lot of effort into decreasaing energy use in commercial buildings because they account for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, according to the EPA. Energy Star  buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent fewer emissions than typical buildings.

To create the annual top cities list, EPA tallies the number of Energy Star certified buildings for the end of the previous year within each metropolitan area. These areas include surrounding towns and suburbs.

Below is a list of the top 25 cities. See the mid-size and small city list here.

TOP 25 CITIES

Rank Metro area Building Count Total Floor Area (Million Sq ft) Cost savings (million $) Equivalent Homes’ Electricity Use for 1 Year 2014 rank 2013 rank 2012 rank 2011 rank 2010 rank 2009 rank
1 Washington, DC 480 122.8 127.1 73,500 2 2 2 2 2 4
2 Los Angeles 475 109.7 155.8 44,300 1 1 1 1 1 1
3 Atlanta 328 69.6 55.8 48,700 3 5 3 6 9 9
4 New York 299 109.7 137.7 50,700 4 4 6 5 10 12
5 San Francisco 292 75.3 118.9 34,600 5 6 5 3 3 2
6 Chicago 251 119.9 90.1 98,300 6 3 4 4 5 6
7 Dallas-Fort Worth 248 62.1 42.1 40,100 7 8 8 10 8 5
8 Houston 235 86.5 66.7 62,300 10 7 7 7 6 3
9 Denver 195 43.6 47.1 53,100 8 12 11 11 4 7
10 Boston 176 46.7 60.1 22,600 13 10 10 12 13 11
11 Phoenix 165 26.9 31.7 25,300 12 9 13 17 20 22
12 Philadelphia 158 33.0 28.2 19,800 9 11 15 14 24 17
13 Seattle 149 30.1 23.7 14,000 14 17 16 16 14 10
14 Riverside, Calif. 127 12.4 19.8 4,300 22 24 9 24
15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 122 41.8 55.8 47,000 16 14 14 13 11 8
16 Charlotte 95 16.2 12.0 10,300 11 14 17 18 22 18
17 San Diego 92 16.3 22.2 6,700 15 15 19 20 17
18 Miami 90 19.3 19.3 15,600 18 18 18 21 19 23
19 Sacramento 89 13.2 20.8 7,100 17 20 12 8 16 21
20 Virginia Beach 81 7.4 4.5 3,500 25
21 Detroit 80 14.0 12.0 12,100 23 19 20 9 15 14
22 San Jose 70 7.8 10.5 3,000 20 16 21 22
23 Austin 65 10.7 10.2 7,300 18 18 13
23 Portland, Ore. 65 11.2 8.1 5,100 24 23 23 15 12 18
24 Louisville 59 5.0 3.0 2,800 25 25
24 Tampa 59 12.4 13.7 11,500 22
25 Salt Lake City 55 6.1 6.3 4,500 24

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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