EPA Buildings Report

By on Nov 9, 2022 in Energy

A report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency illustrates how race and income impact the energy performance of a community’s buildings.

The DataTrends research and analysis report shows that ENERGY STAR® scores for buildings in communities of color averaged 2% lower than buildings in majority-white communities. Buildings in low-income communities scored an average of 4% lower than moderate- and high-income community buildings.

The EPA report, which summarizes ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® data and ENERGY STAR scores from 242,098 build­ings spanning 85 building types, found that:

  • The average ENERGY STAR score – a 1-to-100 rating that compares a building’s energy performance to similar buildings nationwide – in communities of color was 57.5 vs. 58.8 for buildings in majority-white communities
  • ENERGY STAR scores in buildings in low-income communities averaged 56.5 vs. 58.8 recorded in moderate to high income communities
  • K-12 schools and multifamily buildings show the largest differences in average ENERGY STAR scores as measured by both race and income level
  • The proportion of fully electrified buildings in cold and moderate climates was 15.2% for communities of color and 20.6% for majority-white communities. The prevalence of electrification in similar low-income communities was 15.3% vs. 20% in moderate- and high- income communities
  • 9.1% of buildings in communities of color in moderate and cold climates are reliant on heating oil – which has the highest carbon emissions intensity among the most common fossil fuel heating sources – whereas only 5.8% of white-majority community buildings are. The gap is narrower between low-income communities and moderate- to high-income communities: 6.5% and 6.8%, respectively
  • The proportion of buildings equipped with onsite solar energy is virtually the same in all racial and income strata – 1% for communities of color and 0.8% for white-majority communities, 0.8% for low-income communities and 0.9% for communities with moderate to high incomes

The report says, “Achieving an equitable and just transition to an energy effi­cient, low-carbon commercial building sector will require that the benefits of improved building performance and clean en­ergy sources are distributed equitably across all communities,” which will demand special attention to the financial and other barriers faced by many communities of color and low-income communities.

Read the full EPA report, titled “Commercial Buildings in Communities with Different Income and Racial Characteristics: A Comparison of Energy Efficiency and Fuel Sources.” See how Yardi Pulse Energy Benchmarking simplifies ENERGY STAR data collection, reporting and certifications.