“ENERGY STAR NextGen certification will represent America’s most energy-efficient low-carbon commercial buildings,” stated Lauren Hodges, EPA Communications Director in a January webinar announcing the ENERGY STAR NextGenTM Certification.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a new certification called the ENERGY STAR NextGenTM certification. This certification mirrors the ENERGY STAR certification in a few ways, and the this new certification will be tracked through Portfolio Manager. ENERGY STAR NextGenTM is meant to increase efficiency, grow national renewable energy capacity, and transition from fossil fuels to electricity while achieving net-zero emissions economy wide by 2050.
There are three proposed categories of this certification: efficiency, renewable energy use, and electrification. Each category has requirements that set a standard of excellence for buildings, with a strong focus on the future.
Studies have consistently shown that inefficiencies in building systems snowballs into wasted energy, greater emissions, higher costs, and increased strain on energy grids. One of the goals for the EPA’s ENERGY STAR NextGenTM certification is to ensure energy efficiency. To meet the requirement for the efficiency standard, properties must be eligible for ENERGY STAR certification and achieve an ENERGY STAR score of at least 75.
ENERGY STAR certifications recognize building efficiency, and ENERGY STAR portfolio manager is a widely used tool for tracking energy use. Currently, ENERGY STAR NextGenTM recognition will only apply to ENERGY STAR eligible property types, but this will expand as the EPA expands scores and certifications for other property types.
To meet the requirement for the “renewable energy” standard, buildings must use at least 30-percent renewable energy meaning at least 30-percent of the energy a building uses must be from a renewable energy source. This can include “onsite renewable electricity, offsite green power procurement, renewable fuels, and/or renewable thermal certificates.”
Note that the 30-percent required from renewable energy cannot be from renewable components of standard grid electricity, and this requirement is expected to increase over time. To track renewable energy use, the EPA will expand energy tracking features in Portfolio Manager to include tracking for renewable energy credits (REC), other renewable energy products, and inform users if they meet the 30-percent threshold.
To meet the “electrification/emissions” category, a building must be 100-percent electric and have a specific greenhouse gas emission intensity (GHGi). Each building will have a specific GHGi target based on Heating Degree Days (HDD). By using a building’s HDD, the EPA is normalizing each building’s target because GHGi is different based on heating needs. According to the EPA, they “found that for each property type, median GHGi per HDD is relatively consistent across climate zones” and can be applied broadly.
This section will also be tracked through an expansion of Portfolio Manager to show NextGen Direct GHGi Target and GHGi Factor. You can learn more about the proposed factor for calculating direct GHGi targets in the full NextGen proposal.
ENERGY STAR NextGen TM certification represents the future of ENERGY STAR and certifies that the building not only meets the standards of ENERGY STAR certification but also incorporates next generation technologies with new practices and products. If you would like to submit comments on this newly proposed certification, please submit them to the EPA at this link (energystar.gov). Please consider the following questions for your comments:
Criteria: Demonstrate Top Energy Efficiency
Criteria: Use Renewable Energy
Criteria: Limited Direct Emissions
Submit all comments and recommendation by March 2, 2023: Submit Comments on the Proposed ENERGY STAR NextGen Certification for Buildings | ENERGY STAR Buildings and Plants | ENERGY STAR
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