• Demarest Elementary School reduced its energy use from 165 kBtu per square foot to 79 kBtu per square foot in one year.

    Credit: Courtesy EPA

    Demarest Elementary School reduced its energy use from 165 kBtu per square foot to 79 kBtu per square foot in one year.

An elementary school in Bloomfield, N.J., beat out more than 3,000 other buildings of all shapes, sizes, and use across the United States to win the EPA's 2012 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings competition. The Battle of the Buildings competition measures energy performance for an entire calendar year, pitting participants against one another to see which facility can reduce its energy use the most. Demarest Elementary School is the winner with a 52-percent reduction, dropping its kBtu per square foot use from 165 to 79 with an estimated associated cost savings of $75,900.

The EPA estimates that together, the 2012 competitors cut their energy costs by more than $50 million, saved more than three billion kBtus of energy, and reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions in an amount equivalent to the electricity used by more than 43,000 homes.

Of the 3,000 buildings in the 2012 competition, 89 demonstrated energy use reductions of 20 percent or greater. In addition, nearly 400 competitors also tracked and reduced their water consumption via EPA's WaterSense program. In terms of water use, Webster Bank's Oak Street office in Brockton, Mass., was the leader with an 80 percent reduction.

To take home top overall honors, Demarest Elementary identified and addressed overlooked mechanical issues in its facility, such as replacing a heat timer associated with the building control system that then allowed it to run on a more energy-efficient schedule. Boiler operations were adjusted based on outdoor temperatures and changes in weather (a practice the custodians have dubbed "toast and coast"), and hall lighting schedules were adjusted so that lights dimmed in the early morning and after students are dismissed. School staff also were engaged in the process to oversee the use of electronic devices in their areas by turning off and unplugging unused equipment to reduce plug loads.

Energy use in the competition was tracked over the calendar year of 2012 via the EPA's Energy Star Portfolio Manager. In addition, the reductions for each top finisher were verified by an independently licensed professional engineer or registered architect. The other top finishers were:

  • AAFES Ft. Hood Warrior Way Express Store B85001 in Fort Hood, Tex. (48.5 percent reduction)
  • Toms River Verizon Wireless in Toms River, N.J. (43.1 percent reduction)
  • Shamrock Springs Elementary School in Westfield, Ind. (42.1 percent reduction)
  • Hemphill Water Treatment Plant & Pumping Station in Atlanta (40.6 percent reduction)
  • Kmart store #4863 in Gillette, Wyo. (40.2 percent reduction)

Click here for the full list of top finishers by building category, along with an interactive map of the competition, and a complete wrap-up report.