4 Jun 2012

How the U.S. Dept. of Energy is raising the bar in green buildings

Written by Jim Pierobon

How can the sustainability world best brand more energy-efficient buildings without focusing solely on cost savings?

That is the quintessential challenge of the recently launched Better Buildings Challenge by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

After its first year, the initial 60 participating organizations appear to be off to a smooth start; but using 20 percent less energy throughout their entire stock of facilities by 2020 will be no small task. Then again, some companies are angling for even-greater savings. And therein may be the appeal of the Better Buildings Challenge. If building owners and employers value sustainability, increasingly they will want to create and work, in buildings that meet — and continue to meet or exceed — ambitious criteria.

U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge director Maria Vargas. CREDIT: TheEnergyFix

The more desirable a building is as a place to work or serve whatever role it plays in civil society, the more competitors will want to emulate those qualities, says Maria Vargas, Director of the Better Buildings Challenge. She envisions buildings becoming “branded” so that customers will want to associate themselves with the qualities that make those buildings stand out in public and in the marketplace.

Vargas is drawing on some of the lessons learned during 15 years as the lead brand manager for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Energy Star” program for appliances dating back to the 1990s.

Read more from from this feature by Jim Pierobon first posted May 31, 2012 on GreenBiz.com.

Watch Vargas summarized the Better Buildings Challenge here.


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