EPA Launches Energy Star NextGen Certification

FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2024

Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated a new Energy Star certification program for the residential new construction sector.

The Energy Star NextGen Certified Homes and Apartments program is anticipated to increase national energy and emissions savings by accelerating the building industry’s adoption of advanced, energy-efficient technologies. It was reportedly developed with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.

“President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is addressing climate challenges head-on and accelerating the adoption of clean, affordable technologies,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By collaborating with developers and home builders nationwide, Energy Star NextGen is set to act as a catalyst for the construction of new, energy-efficient homes and apartment buildings.

“Strategic partnerships like this are not just cutting costs for American families and greenhouse gas emissions—they’re paving the way for a clean energy future for current and future generations.”

The EPA says the new certification builds on the 30-year legacy of its Energy Star program and will recognize homes and apartments with increased energy efficiency; reduced on-site emissions through heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, electric cooking appliances; and residential electric vehicle charging.

Compared to typical code-level construction, homes earning the Energy Star NextGen certification will reportedly be 20% more efficient and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 80%.

The agency reports that several early adopters have already begun to build to the Energy Star NextGen specification, including:

  • Beazer Homes (Maryland);
  • GreenSmith Builders (Minnesota);
  • New Tradition Homes (Washington);
  • Quantum Equities, LLC (Washington); and
  • Thrive Home Builders (Colorado).

Additionally, several utilities have announced early incentives for builders to adopt the specification, such as:

  • EmPOWER Maryland, including Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), and Potomac Edison (PE) (Maryland);
  • Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1 (Washington);
  • Utah Clean Energy (Utah);
  • Xcel Energy (Minnesota); and
  • Xcel Energy (Colorado).

According to the EPA, energy used in commercial and residential buildings accounts for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. A study conducted last fall estimated that these same buildings have the potential to cut their emissions by up to 63% by 2030 and up to 70% by 2035.

2023 Top Energy-Saving Cities

Last year, in April, the EPA announced its annual “Top Cities” list to spotlight cities with the greatest number of Energy Star certified commercial and multifamily buildings.

For the fourth year in a row, Los Angeles took first place with nearly 750 certified buildings, followed by Washington, D.C., with 555 buildings and Atlanta with 376 buildings.

Beginning in 2009, the EPA’s list of cities with the most Energy Star certified buildings shows how buildings are adopting energy efficiency as a way to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A commercial building must achieve an Energy Star score of 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale, indicating that it is more energy efficient than 75% of similar buildings nationwide. A building’s score is calculated based on a number of factors, including energy use, hours of operation, and a variety of other operating characteristics.

The EPA reported that, to create the annual list, the number of Energy Star certified buildings within each metropolitan area, as defined by the U.S. Census, were tallied. This included the city itself as well as surrounding suburbs. Separate rankings are also created for mid-sized and small cities.

Last year’s list included buildings that earned the EPA Energy Star during 2022. The top 10 cities overall included:

  1. Los Angeles (748);
  2. Washington, D.C. (555);
  3. Atlanta (376);
  4. San Francisco (343);
  5. New York (256);
  6. Riverside (230);
  7. Denver (230);
  8. Dallas (221);
  9. Chicago (221);
  10. Boston (205);

According to the release, more than 7,000 commercial buildings earned the EPA’s Energy in 2022. As of the end of that year, nearly 41,000 buildings across the country also earned certification.

The EPA reported that these buildings have saved $5.4 billion on energy bills and prevented more than 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—equal to the annual emissions of more than 2.7 million homes.


Tagged categories: Certifications and standards; Color + Design; Design - Commercial; Energy codes; Energy efficiency; Energy Star; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); EPA; Good Technical Practice; Green building; Green design; Housing; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Residential; Residential Construction

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