Fourteen commercial buildings from across the United States — from a skyscraper in New York City to an elementary school in the mountains of Colorado — are going head-to-head to “work off the waste” in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) first-ever National Building Competition.

Participants are measuring and tracking their building's monthly energy consumption using the EPA's online energy-tracking tool, Portfolio Manager; making improvements to their building's energy performance; and sharing their progress. The building that achieves the greatest percentage-based reduction in energy-use intensity (EUI) over a 12-month period will be announced as the winner Oct. 26.

The 14 contestants, chosen from nearly 200 applicants, are:

  • Morrison Residence Hall, The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill (starting EUI: 213; midpoint EUI: 172; reduction: 19.2 percent). Housing 800 students, Morrison Hall was UNC at Chapel Hill's first solar-panel installation. It is home to the campus' Sustainability Living Learning Community.

  • Sears, Glen Burnie, Md. (starting EUI: 105; midpoint EUI: 86; reduction: 18.3 percent). Sears' store in Glen Burnie replaced inefficient lighting with new lumen lighting and taught employees effective ways to manage energy use.

  • 1525 Wilson Boulevard Building, Arlington, Va. (starting EUI: 297; midpoint EUI: 246; reduction: 17.2 percent). Located across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial, this 12-story office building has pursued aggressive energy-efficiency upgrades since 2004.

  • JCPenney Store 1778, Orange, Calif. (starting EUI: 165; midpoint EUI: 138; reduction: 16.1 percent). The manager of this JCPenney store posts daily store energy-use reports, including comparisons with the company's other stores, for all associates to see. Store 1778 is using 35-percent less energy than it was using last year.

  • Van Holten Primary School, Bridgewater, N.J. (starting EUI: 150; midpoint EUI: 133; reduction: 11.3 percent). Students monitor energy use and remind staff members and peers about good energy behaviors. The Board of Education, principal, lead custodian, and energy coordinator, meanwhile, are supporting upgrades of lighting and controls.

  • 522 5th Avenue, New York (starting EUI: 242; midpoint EUI: 220; reduction: 9.2 percent). Constructed in 1896, this Class A midtown office building recently received a facelift. The new management team has made energy efficiency a priority.

  • Maplewood Mall, St. Paul, Minn.(starting EUI: 228; midpoint EUI: 217; reduction: 4.7 percent). Since 2003, Maplewood Mall has been trying to be as energy-efficient as possible. All mall managers are trained in reducing energy costs, and energy savings are part of the operations director's annual goal.

  • Crystal River Elementary School, Carbondale, Colo. (starting EUI: 186; midpoint EUI: 178; reduction: 4.5 percent). Making up Roaring Fork School District's Energy Team, 12 middle-school mathematics students are leading teachers, custodians, and maintenance-staff members in a comprehensive advanced energy-management program with the goal of earning the EPA's Energy Star label.

  • Memorial Arts Building at Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta (starting EUI: 280; midpoint EUI: 270; reduction: 3.6 percent). Citizens and city leaders have set their sights on “greening the arts.”

  • Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Downtown (starting EUI: 162; midpoint EUI: 157; reduction: 3.0 percent). Occupying a 1920s bank building in San Diego's historic Gaslamp District, this hotel retrofitted guest rooms and common areas with efficient sensors and technology. The staff formed a “Green Team” and offers guests eco-friendly options.

  • Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia Beach, Va. (starting EUI: 229; midpoint EUI: 222; reduction: 2.9 percent).

  • Tucker Residence Hall, North Carolina (NC) State University, Raleigh (starting EUI: 172; midpoint EUI: 170; reduction: 1.3 percent). A 63-year-old dormitory housing NC State's first-year college program, Tucker Residence Hall has one floor equipped with smart technology in common areas and another floor set to receive super-efficient light-emitting-diode lighting.

  • Sheraton Austin Hotel, Austin, Texas (starting EUI: 203; midpoint EUI: 205; increase: 0.8 percent). This hotel celebrates Earth Hour by asking guests to turn off their lights and televisions and join staff members in the lobby for acoustic music. The hotel goes green year-round through monthly energy audits, lighting retrofits, and an option for guests to opt out of housekeeping services in exchange for a $5 coupon.

  • Solon Family Health Center, Cleveland (starting EUI: 318; midpoint EUI: 322; increase: 1.4 percent). The staff of Solon Family Health Center has improved maintenance procedures and made upgrades. Also, it helps employees fund their own energy-saving projects.

For more on the National Building Competition, visit www.energystar.gov/buildingcontest.

Send news items to the attention of Scott Arnold, executive editor, HPAC Engineering, The Penton Media Building, 1300 E. Ninth St., Cleveland, OH 44114-1503; e-mail: scott.arnold@penton.com; fax: 216-696-3432. Electronic submissions are preferred.