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Which States Have the Most Energy-Efficient Buildings?

 
 
 

 
 

In addition to its broad ENERGY STAR certification program, Bimbo Bakeries USA in 2022 received a 2022 Green Power Leadership Award for efforts that include its partial ownership of the Santa Rita East Wind Energy Center operated by Invenergy in Texas.

Photo courtesy of Bimbo Bakeries USA


Last week the EPA recognized 103 U.S. manufacturing plants that earned the agency’s ENERGY STAR certification in 2023, designated for plants in the top 25% of energy efficiency in their sector. Which led us to ponder which states lead the way in ENERGY STAR certifications overall across more than 6.5 billion sq. ft. of certified space nationwide.

First things first: Those 103 manufacturing sites joined a select club of more than 270 industrial plants that have earned ENERGY STAR stamp since 2006 across 21 manufacturing sectors ranging from cement and steel to glass and commercial bakeries. The fact that those new club members from last year comprise 38% of the 18-year total highlights the increased attention companies are devoting to energy-efficient operations in a world of increasing power costs, increased emissions scrutiny and corporate sustainability goals.

Here are the top states for 2023 manufacturing certifications:

State ENERGY STAR Certifications
Texas 11
Ohio 9
Arizona 7
Kentucky 7
Tennessee 7
Alabama 4
California 4
Minnesota 4
Washington 4

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Notably, 14 of the 103 sites belong to Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc., which achieved the certification at facilities in Arizona, California (2), Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York (2), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin (2). The EPA announcement noted that Bimbo “installed advanced controls and high-efficiency burners in ovens, oxidizers, and boilers and expanded investments in metering systems, enabling real-time monitoring and control of energy usage.”

Just last week, Bimbo announced the launch of an on-site microgrid system at six California bakeries in Montebello, Placentia, Oxnard, San Luis Obispo, South San Francisco, and Sacramento. “The system was developed as part of an Energy Services Agreement with GreenStruxure, who designed and built the microgrids which are comprised of solar arrays coupled with battery storage,” the company stated. The six microgrid systems are providing nearly 20% of Bimbo Bakeries USA’s energy usage and saving the company an estimated 1,700 CO2e Tons per year. “Our new microgrid systems will help contribute to California’s efforts to expand the use of renewable energy in the State,” said Kevin Yavari, Bimbo Bakeries USA’s senior manager of corporate sustainability. “We support the state’s clean energy mission and will continue to look for ways we can back these efforts.”


The 4.3-million-sq.-ft. USAA home office in San Antonio, Texas, has been ENERGY STAR certified for 21 years.

Photo courtesy of USAA


Flowers Baking Co. accounted for seven certifications, including three in Texas. Honda also accounted for seven certifications, including four across its family of plants in Ohio.

Among the highlights of steps taken, J.R. Simplot Company’s nitrogenous fertilizer plant in Helm, California, commissioned an on-site, one-megawatt solar photovoltaic project, reducing source energy consumption and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. Koch Fertilizer’s Beatrice, Nebraska, fertilizer plant reduced steam use and the number of continuously running pumps, while its Enid, Oklahoma, plant improved steam utilization and implemented advanced process controls. Nissan North America, Inc., replaced more than 20,000 light fixtures with LEDs across all U.S. manufacturing sites and conducted a combination of energy treasure hunts and third-party assessments targeting energy efficiency.

Stats by State, City and Company

How do overall ENERGY STAR building certifications break down by territory?

For that you have only to visit the ENERGY STAR Certified Building and Plant Locator. It tracks everything but data centers, which can be found in a separate list of 255 facilities. Note: Not every building in the overall list has retained its certification through 2023, but most have. Also, the EPA database makes a tally mark every time a building earns a certification, meaning there are 43,287 results but some have earned it nearly every year since the database began keeping track in 1999. Last year saw a total of 8,824 certifications, up from 7,182 in 2022 and the highest total since the 9,156 that were earned in 2018. The all-time high was 9,573 in 2017.

Here are the top 10 states for ENERGY STAR certifications across all building types in 2023:

State ENERGY STAR Certifications
California 2,114
Texas 929
Florida 507
Georgia 439
Colorado 367
New York 357
Virginia 318
Michigan 292
Illinois 258
North Carolina 239

Yes, that’s right: California accounted for 24% of the nation’s ENERGY STAR certifications last year. Notably, the non-state District of Columbia accounted for 248. Just outside the top 10 states but with hefty totals over 200 are Massachusetts (225), Ohio (223) and Washington (203). (These figures are one of many factors in Site Selection’s unique Sustainability Rankings published each year in July.)

Which cities (not metro areas) are leading the way? Here are the top 10 from 2023:

City ENERGY STAR Certifications
Washington, D.C. 248
New York, New York 237
Los Angeles, California 233
Atlanta, Georgia 186
San Francisco, California 178
Austin, Texas 175
Denver, Colorado 175
Houston, Texas 161
San Diego, California 147
Seattle, Washington 129

 

The next five:

 

Chicago, Illinois 117
Boston, Massachusetts 103
Charlotte, North Carolina 85
Tampa, Florida 77
Phoenix, Arizona 66

The EPA’s separate list of ENERGY STAR–certified data centers, as one might expect, includes 44 facilities, comprising 17.3% of the nation’s total of 255. The saturate market of Virginia is not far behind with 41, followed by 17 in New Jersey, 15 in Illinois, 13 each in Ohio and Washington and 12 in Arizona.

Oddly, the database does not break down the certified data centers by city. But it does by company. The far-and-away leader is Digital Realty with 48 ENERGY STAR certifications, followed by Cyxtera Technologies with 33, Equinix with 10 and EdgeConnex with seven. — Adam Bruns


 

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