California cities dominate energy efficient buildings list

California building owners appear to believe in Energy Star.

Los Angeles topped a list of U.S. metropolitan areas with the largest number of energy efficient buildings -- 293 -- that earned EPA’s Energy Star rating last year. San Francisco with 173 buildings came in at No. 3, while Sacramento ranked No. 16 with 61 buildings and San Diego No. 17 with 58 buildings.

Second place went to Washington, D.C. Denver and Chicago round out the top 5 in that order. The other West Coast cities were Portland at No. 12 and Seattle at No. 14.

"These cities see the importance of taking action on climate change," said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in a statement. “Communities from Los Angeles to Louisville are reducing greenhouse gases and cutting energy bills with buildings that have earned EPA's Energy Star."

In 2009, about 3,900 commercial buildings earned the Energy Star, representing annual savings of more than $900 million in utility bills and more than 4.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the EPA reported. Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of over $100 billion per year.

Buildings reduce that by a combination of energy efficiency efforts: lighting, heating, cooling, insulation, water use and other practices. Municipalities in the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Partnership will institute retrofits over the coming months to reduce their buildings' carbon footprint.
Photo: LA skyline by J. Sherbert.