Last year's winner, a parking garage at the University of Central Florida.

Last year's winner, a parking garage at the University of Central Florida.

The Battle of the Buildings is back. Consider this round three of the battle, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Energy Star Program heads into its third year of pitting commercial buildings against each other to “work off the waste.”

Starting Wednesday participating buildings will begin measuring, tracking, and reporting their energy use to find the biggest loser. This year the EPA is upping the ante and recognizing any building that improves its energy efficiency by 20 percent or more. Top building water savers will get a nod, too.

Last year 245 buildings competed and saved a combined 240 million kBtus and $5.2 million on utilities. The University of Central Florida’s Parking Garage C took home the gold, reducing its energy use by more than 60 percent. In dollars, that amounts to nearly $35,000.

Commercial buildings are a top energy consumer in the U.S., accounting for 18 percent of the nation’s energy use and an equal percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
This year’s competitors will try to reduce that number—approximately 3,300 buildings signed up to compete. Competitors come from all walks of life including retail stores, senior care facilities, schools, and courthouses.  Office buildings made the biggest showing, constituting 31 percent of all competitors.

The winner of the competition will be announced in April 2013. Visit the Energy Star website for more information on the competition.