Report Cover: Leaders in Energy Efficiency - Energy Star Buildings in Wisconsin

Leaders in Efficiency: ENERGY STAR Buildings in Wisconsin

This report is by Kathy Kuntz of Cool Choices and was produced in conjunction with the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council and the Great Plains Institute.



ENERGY STAR certified buildings average 35 percent less energy use than typical buildings and cumulatively achieve over $2 billion in annual cost savings. More than 300,000 buildings across the country—over 40 percent of the commercial market—measure and track their energy use with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a tool that helps identify their eligibility for certification.

This report characterizes the market uptake of ENERGY STAR certification for buildings in Wisconsin, which has grown from 43 buildings in 2000 to 582 certified buildings as of December 31, 2013. Collectively these certified buildings in Wisconsin represent nearly 72 million square feet of floor space, which is less than 5 percent of commercial building floor space in the state.1

Key insights about the market for certifying ENERGY STAR buildings in Wisconsin include:

Activity has flattened in recent years: The annual number of ENERGY STAR certifications rose quickly between 2006 and 2010 and has flattened since 2010.

More than half Wisconsin’s certified buildings are schools: While K-12 schools make up just a third of ENERGY STAR certified buildings nationally, in Wisconsin they are 56 percent of the total.

Uptake varies across buildings of different sizes: Wisconsin’s ENERGY STAR buildings range from 3,200 to over 1.7 million square feet. Buildings less than 100,000 square feet represent about 65 percent of all ENERGY STAR certified buildings in the state.

Activity encompasses a mix of old and new buildings: Wisconsin’s oldest ENERGY STAR certified building was built in 1857. More than half of all certified buildings in Wisconsin were built before 1980—and less than 15 percent of certified buildings were built in 2000 or later.

Most of the ENERGY STAR certified buildings in Wisconsin were certified just once; buildings recertified multiple times tend to be more efficient: ENERGY STAR does not require annual recertification though ongoing performance monitoring and certification is encouraged. In Wisconsin over 78 percent of certified buildings earned just one certification. The average ENERGY STAR score for Wisconsin buildings with one certification is 83.83, and the most recent score for buildings with four or more certifications averaged 90.07 on a scale of 1 - 100.

Institutional commitment drives uptake in certain areas: In the retail sector, four companies own over 87 percent of all certified retail buildings in Wisconsin. In the city of Kenosha, over 90 percent of all the certified buildings belong to Kenosha School District.

1 With assistance from Energy Center of Wisconsin staff, we estimate Wisconsin’s total commercial square footage to be between 1,500 million and 1,900 million square feet.