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The Environmental Protection Agency's 2013 Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings is underway. The competition pits commercial buildings across the United States against each other to see which of them can make the greatest reductions in energy usage. This year, there are more than 3,200 buildings participating in the competition, up from 14 when it began in 2010.

"Battle of the Buildings is a great opportunity for businesses to save money while reducing carbon pollution that contributes to climate change," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. "These are the kinds of smart, innovative solutions that are going to help solve the environmental challenges we face today."

Competition details
The competition encourages buildings to find energy savings solutions in every area throughout their operations, including efficient commercial lighting, occupancy sensors and by installing LED lighting systems. Those measures, and others like them, helped last year's competitors total $50 million in cost savings and 43,000 homes worth of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The competition has drawn a wide variety of buildings from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including a Catholic church and rectory in Seattle, Wash., and Busch Stadium, home of Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals.

Competition metrics
Using Portfolio Manager, EPA's Energy Star online energy measurement and tracking tool, buildings in the competition keep tabs on their progress throughout the year, with a mid-point check-in coming in December and the overall winner being announced in April 2014.

"What that does is it normalizes energy use across all types of buildings," Lauren Pitcher, director of communications, Energy Star Commercial Buildings and Industrial Plants program, EPA, told Federal News Radio. "There is a standard metric. It quantifies how much raw fuel a building uses relative to its size and we normalize it for weather. It's a nice way to sort of even out the playing field, and you can compare all these different, diverse buildings to one another and have them compete in this really fun way."

Energy efficient lighting as part of a winning formula
Of the many ways building managers and tenants can go about reducing their energy usage, conducting building energy audits and using that information to improve their commercial lighting systems is one of the most effective. LED lights are more cost and environmentally efficient than any other bulb on the market, and can help home and building owners succeed in competitions like Battle of the Buildings or simply reduce their utility bill and carbon footprint.