Los Angeles, land of excess and big cars, just gained a whole lot of green credibility with the Environmental Protection Agency's 2009 ranking of energy-efficient buildings. Believe it or not, L.A. has more Energy Star-labeled buildings than any other city in the country—293 buildings containing 76 million square feet of floorspace, to be exact.
The rest of the rankings aren't that surprising, except for one thing: New York is last. NYC has the largest population of any city, so why is it so far behind? Granted, this is better than NYC's 2008 performance—the city was missing entirely from the EPA's list. But New York clearly needs to step up its green building performance.
Energy Star labels aren't given out lightly. Energy Star buildings use approximately 35% less energy than average buildings and emit 35% less CO2, and that's not an easy feat. Just check out the Energy Star Web site to see the arduous process buildings have to go through to get certification. Nevertheless, almost 9,000 buildings in the U.S. earned the Energy Star label in 2009. That's not bad considering that the program only began in 1999. Then again, the program has clear benefits for building owners. As a result of the Energy Star program, annual utility savings for certified buildings have skyrocketed to almost $1.6 billion.