Top 3 Reasons Your Next Retail Architecture Project Should Be ENERGY STAR Certified

Retail Architecture Energy Star Infographic

Economic conditions over the past several years have led to an increased pressure to cut down on construction project costs. Many retailers are feeling the effects from online sales which can make it even more challenging to justify additional costs for energy-conscious design.

But, incorporating an energy efficiency certification, like the ENERGY STAR program, is a smart business decision. The minimal added effort and expense can pay off in big ways—cost savings, environmental benefits and a better consumer experience.

ENERGY STAR Program Overview

ENERGY STAR certified buildings must meet strict energy performance standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. To start the process, commercial buildings are required to enter a minimum of 12 months of utility bill data in the EPA’s free Portfolio Manager tool to measure and track energy use, water use and greenhouse gas emissions. From that data, the Portfolio Manager calculates a 1-100 ENERGY STAR score. A score of 75 or higher is eligible to apply for the ENERGY STAR certification. If awarded, the certification is valid for one year.

Buildings can also be recognized as Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR. This designation signifies that a building is poised to perform in the top 25 percent of the nation’s most energy efficient buildings and may be eligible to earn ENERGY STAR certification once in operation. Projects achieving a Statement of Energy Design Intent (SEDI) target score of 75 or higher are eligible. Individual projects earn the right to use the “DESIGNED TO EARN THE ENERGY STAR” mark on promotional materials, building plans, and construction site signage.

1. A Better Bottom Line

Although we all would like to be good stewards of our environmental resources, today’s competitive market dictates that a program must have significant financial benefits as well.

ENERGY STAR certified buildings use 35 percent less energy than similar buildings nationwide. As of 2014, this reduction represents a $3.4 billion cumulative cost savings. ENERGY STAR buildings cost $.50 less per square foot to operate than their peers.

By designing your building with certification in mind, you can help mitigate risks to profitability by validating assumptions made during the development appraisal, such as operating costs, rents, assets value and occupancy.

According to a recent survey, U.S. architecture, engineering, and construction firms are expecting the following benefits from green building projects(1):

New Construction
Decreased operating costs (over one year): 11%
Decreased operating costs (over five years): 28%
Payback time for green investments: 7 years

As an additional benefit, some jurisdictions allow expedited permitting and inspections for projects that have been Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR.

2. Consumers Demand Sustainable Design

Increasingly, consumers want to do business with environmentally responsible companies. A 2007 National Technology Readiness Study shows that 68 percent of adults like to do business with green companies and more than 80 percent of workers are attracted to an employer with an environmentally friendly reputation(2).

According to McGraw-Hill Construction World Green Building Trends,

“The green building movement has shifted from ‘push’ to ‘pull’ with markets increasingly demanding no less than green buildings.”

Consumers recognize and value the ENERGY STAR brand. It is the most trusted environmental label in the United States. In fact, 85 percent of adults are able to distinguish the brand and use it to influence their purchasing decisions. ENERGY STAR crosses platforms and consumers recognize the familiar star on appliances, homes and other products.

As consumer-purchasing habits continue to shift and businesses face pressure from online retailers, every foothold counts. By starting your project with sustainable design, you and your organization stay ahead of the curve and are well positioned for the future(3).

3. Environmental Benefits

Through the ENERGY STAR program, thousands of organizations are transforming the way we use energy and preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the only program based on actual, verified energy performance.

Since ENERGY STAR certified buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy than similar buildings, these energy efficient buildings contribute 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

You might think that coal-fired power plants or exhaust from our cars represent the biggest threat to our environment and it’s true that these things do contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. However, the seemingly innocuous buildings we see everyday in our communities account for nearly 40 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

Sadly, much of the energy creating those emissions is actually wasted—often 30 percent or more of that energy is not used at all. Improving energy efficiency is the best and most cost-effective way to eliminate this waste.

As state and local governments look to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency mandates for new construction projects and existing buildings are increasing. The vast majority of these new regulations incorporate ENERGY STAR and Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR. By incorporating these principles and standards, you’re in a better position to respond to new laws and regulations.

A Win for You, Your Client and the Environment

Transforming the way we use energy starts with thoughtful design in retail architecture. Incorporating a program like ENERGY STAR sets measureable energy consumption benchmarks for one building or a whole portfolio of buildings. ENERGY STAR opens the door for recognition in your community and provides additional opportunities for recognition on a national level for your building portfolio and organization, promoting positive associations with your customers.

When green architecture is paired with more efficient energy consumption, we all win.

At SGA Design Group, we believe that a core responsibility in the practice of architecture is to be good stewards of the environment while meeting our clients’ unique needs. We believe in being leaders in the field of sustainable design and we’re proud to know our passion for this commitment shows in our work. We’ve received 5 Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR Certificates of Achievement.

Where will you take energy efficient design? Tell us what you think on Twitter or Facebook.


For more information on the ENERGY STAR program, visit:

To view one our Designed to Earn the Energy Star Projects, visit:

[1] Why You Should Design to Earn EPA’s ENERGY STAR: World Green Building Trends: Business Benefits Driving New and Retrofit Market Opportunities in Over 60 Countries, McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics, 2013.

[2] Ten reasons to pursue ENERGY STAR certification for Your Building or Plant

Triggers to Increased Levels of Green Building, McGraw-Hill Construction Research & Analytics, 2013.

[3] Ten reasons to pursue ENERGY STAR certification for Your Building or Plant