Energy Star based in Washington, D.C., has established that energy performance tracking works on two levels to reduce energy costs for savings of 25%-30% that congregations can return to their ministry and missionswhile maintaining or improving facility comfort and functionality. At the same time, harmful pollution from electricity generation that threatens human life and health can, likewise, be significantly reduced, Energy Star reports. Many in the faith community call this "creation care," or just good stewardship of finances and God's natural resources for our childrens' future.
First, Energy Star's three-year study of 35,000 facilities' energy use within the free, online Energy Star Portfolio Manager tool documented annually accumulating 2.4% average savingswith no capital investmentjust through more informed facility operations and maintenance. (All data is aggregated, as individual facility data is password protected and not available to Energy Star staff.) This report and other commercial facility analyses are available at www.energystar.gov/DataTrends.
Secondly, a weather-normalized, accurate baseline score is generated for the worship facility, which allows you to compare your worship facility to national average energy use on an easy to understand 1 100 Energy Star score. By starting with an accurate baseline and tracking savings, congregations can strategically plan and implement energy efficiency investments on a prioritized basis by leveraging free, objective Energy Star tools, facts sheets, guides and Web-based training linked from www.energystar.gov/congregations. In addition, the objective reports generated in Portfolio Manager can help architects, other service and product providers, as well as facility managers to educate congregation members and decision makers regarding actual energy savings.
Summer upgrade launch
On July 17, 2013, Energy Star will launch a significant upgrade to Portfolio Manager with new user-friendly features and functionality, including major redesign of database architecture, system processing, Web services, and user interfaceincluding the module especially for worship facilities. Over 70,000 Portfolio Manager account holders are now tracking the energy performance of their more than 300,000 commercial facilities in the popular tool, and the Energy Star brand is recognized by 87% of Americans, Energy Star reports.
Energy Star representatives report that users will enjoy simpler, more streamlined functionality, easier-to-generate colorful and graphical reports, as well as improved sharing features. The Portfolio Manager upgrade is explained via recorded webinars, fact sheets, slides and FAQ downloads at www.energystar.gov/pmupgrade.
Free webinar resource
Energy Star has scheduled a number of free webinars beginning July 15, 2013, to provide training on the new Portfolio Manager interface, now posted at https://esbuildings.webex.com/. These live training sessions will offer an in-depth orientation to the new tool and provide step-by-step instructions for benchmarking from expert trainers. Congregations may wish to identify their own "in-house" expert to receive sustained, regular training and support from Energy Star, the group reports.
Finally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a communications kit for the new Portfolio Manager that will be available in early July. The kit will include resources like web buttons, a new Portfolio Manager Web portal, and sample social media content to help church leaders and facilities managers spread the word about Energy Star's tool for energy and financial stewardship and creation care.