<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Last year's winner, a parking garage at the University of Central Florida.</p>

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

A parking garage at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, won the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2nd annual National Building Competition by reducing its energy usage by 63.2 percent. The competition—which tracked buildings’ energy usage from Sept. 1, 2010 through Aug. 31, 2011—challenged teams representing 245 buildings across the country to save energy, cut costs, and reduce carbon emissions as part of the EPA’s Energy Star program.

Energy-efficient strategies for the UCF parking garage focused on lighting, which accounts for the majority of energy-usage for an above-ground parking structure. Improvements included fitting the main garage with high-quality fluorescent lights, retrofitting the top deck with LED fixtures, and adding motion sensors to storage areas. In doing so, the university cut the parking garage’s lighting costs in half.

Twinsburg High School and Sports Complex in Ohio came in second place, cutting its energy usage by 46.3 percent, followed by the Polaris Career Center, in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, which reduced its energy consumption by 43.4 percent. In total, the 2011 competitors saved $5.2 million in utility bills and over 240 billion Btus of energy. Complete results can be found here.

Competitors monitored their buildings’ monthly energy usage with the EPA’s Energy Star online tracking tool, Portfolio Manager. Calculations were adjusted to account for buildings’ size and changes in the weather. At the end of the competition, licensed architects and engineers verified the square footage and energy usage of each of the top finishers.

This marks the second straight year that a university has won the competition. Last year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Morrison Residence Hall took first place in the much smaller inaugural competition, reducing its energy consumption by 35.7 percent to outperform 13 other buildings.