The Energy Star symbol, commonly found on home appliances, is familiar to many. The program behind it was created by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 to provide consumers a standardized measure of energy efficiency. But Energy Star is not only about air-conditioners; it includes partnerships with industry that extend to promoting energy efficiency in commercial buildings, industrial plants and homes. To date, it has helped reduce greenhouse gas by more than 3.5 billion metric tons, about what 750 million cars would produce in a year. In 2018 the program reduced energy costs to Americans by $35 billion.
If you want your home to function in a way that serves the environment (and saves you money), this week’s chart may be of interest. It’s drawn from the latest annual report (2019) examining the share of new single-family homes built achieving Energy Star certification in the 50 states and the Washington, D.C.
In 2019, 73,445 such homes were built in the U.S. — though not a single one in North Dakota, Montana or Alaska (Hawaii managed a single house). Arizona had the highest share, 54 percent, or 18,224 homes. Besides Arizona, only Maryland and the District of Columbia surpassed a 25 percent share of new homes meeting certification standards.
To achieve Energy Star certification — which can come with tax credits for builders and homeowners — a new home must do more than just use certain appliances. It must be built, tested and inspected to meet strict E.P.A. guidelines for heating, ventilation, cooling, water management and insulation. Certified homes built in 2019 saved over $20.3 million in electric bills and reduced CO2 emissions by 107,303 metric tons, the equivalent of 23,209 cars, 249,713 barrels of oil, or the CO2 captured by 1.77 million trees grown from seedlings for 10 years.