EPA looks for biggest energy loser

Sarah Gardner Apr 27, 2010

EPA looks for biggest energy loser

Sarah Gardner Apr 27, 2010


Bill Radke: Somebody at the Environmental Protection Agency has been watching reality TV. Today the agency’s launching a “Biggest Loser”-style competition for energy use in schools and commercial buildings. Sarah Gardner has more from the Marketplace Sustainability Desk.

Sarah Gardner: The EPA chose 14 competitors; they range from a JC Penney Store in Orange, Calif. to a dormitory on the campus of North Carolina State University. Competitors will track their monthly energy use and see who can shed the most — in this case, kilowatt hours and thermal units.

Michael Logan: Our goal is to reduce energy usage 25 percent.

That’s math teacher Michael Logan. Crystal River Elementary in Carbondale, Col. is among the competitors. Logan says as public education funding shrinks, schools need to find all the energy savings they can.

Logan: Every dollar we save in energy can be turned into classroom teachers, for books, computers.

Maura Beard is with the EPA. She says commercial buildings typically waste 30 percent of their power and heat. Take retail stores, she says:

Maura Beard: We found that they often are heating or cooling a building for many hours before the store actually opens or closes.

EPA has its own energy efficient label for appliances and buildings called “Energy Star.” But the label came under fire recently after a government audit found the certification “vulnerable to fraud and abuse.” Beard says the buildings in this EPA competition will have to submit utility bills to prove their energy savings. Oh, and unlike the TV show, EPA’s “biggest loser” won’t win a $250,000 prize; just a whole lot of good PR.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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