Wyoming Arts Council

BBHC reports energy-saving gains during EPA "Battle of the Buildings" competition

From a Buffalo Bill Historical Center press release:

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program marked the midpoint of the 2011 National Building Competition “Battle of the Buildings” by releasing a list of the top contenders for each building category as well as the progress of all participants in the competition, each of whom remain in the running through this fall.

The Buffalo Bill Historical Center is one of 245 teams around the country going head-to-head in the competition to see who can reduce their energy use the most. In the first six months of the competition alone, the competitors together have saved more than $3.7 million on utility bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by 2,300 homes annually.

According to Operating Engineer Phil Anthony, the Center presents some unique challenges. “We are charged with the preservation of our collections, which raises climate control issues not typically faced by mainstream commercial buildings,” says Anthony. “That means not only keeping visitors and staff comfortable during open hours, but also maintaining stable temperature and relative humidity levels for the objects housed in exhibit and storage areas 24 hours a day.”

Despite this challenge, at the midpoint of the competition the EPA calculates that the Center has reduced its energy use by 4.07 percent over the past year, the time frame covered by the competition. “Competitors in the second year of the Energy Star ‘Battle of the Buildings” are already achieving energy-savings that really pack a punch,” says EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Gina McCarthy. “The stories behind these savings speak to the dedication of American businesses and organizations to protecting the environment and public health, and to economic common sense.”

Anthony points out that staff has been working diligently to increase energy efficiency since 2002, the year of the last major addition to the structure and several years prior to the period covered by the competition. By reconfiguring and improving air handling systems, improving insulation in critical areas, upgrading lighting system lamps, and changing behaviors as simple as consistently turning off lights during off hours, the Center has reduced energy usage significantly over the past nine years.

The competition includes 26 different types of commercial buildings across 33 states and the District of Columbia. Competitors measure and track their monthly energy consumption, and the building with the largest percentage reduction in energy use, adjusted for weather and building size, will be recognized as the winner in November. The competitors exchange ideas and strategies through various social media applications, including Twitter and Facebook.

Energy Star was started by the EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings that meet strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the EPA. Last year alone, Americans saved about $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to the annual emissions of 33 million vehicles.

Information about all competitors, including photos and facts about each along with energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions data, as well as complete midpoint results for all competitors is available at: www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings. More information on the Buffalo Bill Historical Center can be found by exploring www.bbhc.org.

Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and Yellowstone natural history—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. For general information, visit www.bbhc.org, or call 307.587.4771.

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