Energy Star

ENERGY STAR Program

Take Steps to Reduce Energy Use by 10% Through the ENERGY STAR Program

The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources (SEER) and U.S. EPA's ENERGY STAR program have developed a law office energy management program that many law offices can use to reduce their energy use by at least ten percent. The ABA Law Practice Management Section (LPM) is co-sponsoring this program.

ENERGY STAR is a joint EPA-DOE (Department of Energy) program that encourages energy conservation by improving the energy efficiency of a wide range of consumer and commercial products, enhancing energy efficiency in buildings, and promoting energy management planning for businesses and other organizations. A law office may enroll in this program and qualify for recognition as an ENERGY STAR Partner by committing to implement an energy management strategy. A law office that participates in ENERGY STAR qualifies as a Law Office Climate Challenge Partner.

The ABA and ENERGY STAR encourage law offices to make good faith efforts to reduce by at least 10% their energy usage, if they own their building; or their electricity usage, if they are tenants. A law office that achieves the 10% amount of reduction will be recognized as a Law Office Climate Challenge Leader.

ENERGY STAR offers a number of energy saving methods that law offices can implement, although, because most law offices are tenants, the extent to which they can implement energy saving steps and benefit from them will depend on their lease. Even so, a tenant law office with limited control over its electricity payments and facilities can take steps such as such as turning off lights and equipment when not needed and upgrading to more energy-efficient computer equipment. Perhaps most importantly for a tenant law office, an energy management plan creates a basis to work with the building owner to improve energy efficiency and pass the savings to the law office, or to more fully consider energy efficiency goals if circumstances point towards the need for different office space.

Questions and Answers

For full details, please see EPA ENERGY STAR Program-Questions and Answers.( more)

1. How can a law office participate in the ENERGY STAR Program?

To join as a partner, the law office must sign and submit a " partnership letter" that indicates the law office will specifically:

  • Baseline, track, and benchmark our organization’s energy performance by using tools such as those offered through ENERGY STAR;
  • Develop and implement a plan to reduce energy intensity across our facilities and operations by following the energy management strategy provided through ENERGY STAR; and,
  • Educate our staff and the public about our partnership in ENERGY STAR, and highlight our achievements with recognition offered through ENERGY STAR.
  • 2. What are the Costs of Participation in the EPA ENERGY STAR Program?

    Participation in the ENERGY STAR program, and the use of ENERGY STAR resources, is free-of-charge. The cost of implementing energy efficiency measures in law offices will vary widely depending on the nature and operations of the office and the measures selected for implementation. However, because the goal is to reduce energy use and because ENERGY STAR recommends only cost-effective measures, the organization is most likely to save money, at least over the long term. Some of the recommended energy management practices are cost-free. Other practices are relatively low cost. Some energy efficiency measures may have higher near-term costs, but can result in relatively larger savings. In addition, local utilities, regional energy efficiency programs, and Federal, State, and local government agencies often offer various tax incentives and rebates.

    3. What are the Benefits to Law Offices of participating in ENERGY STAR?

    Law firms that participate in ENERGY STAR can expect to enjoy energy cost savings, as well as an enhanced reputation as good citizens and, in particular, good energy stewards. This may assist in employee hiring and retention, and may be of particular value within the growing field of renewable resources law. Furthermore, participating as an ENERGY STAR Partner will present an opportunity for some law firms to receive recognition from EPA if they demonstrate significant reductions in their energy use.

    4. How does ENERGY STAR recommend that I go about improving the energy efficiency of my law office?

    SEER and ENERGY STAR have developed the Law Office Guide to Energy Efficiency, which includes many suggestions that law offices should find useful in developing energy management plans, as well as links to valuable tools that will help.

    In addition, the ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual provides a wealth of information on strategies for upgrading buildings.

    5. How Can a Law Office Receive Recognition in the Climate Challenge?

    When it has achieved measurable reductions in energy usage, the law office should report those reductions to ENERGY STAR by e-mailing to LawOffice@energystar.gov There is no standard form or date for reporting improvements in energy efficiency. A law office participating in the Law Office Climate Challenge may defer submitting a report to ENERGY STAR until the earlier of (i) February 1, 2010; or (ii) the date the law office has achieved a reduction of at least ten percent of energy (if it owns its building) or electricity (if it is a tenant) usage. The report may be brief and may include the amount of baseline energy or electricity use and the amount of energy or electricity use after implementation of the energy management plan.

    At the same time that the law office submits an update to ENERGY STAR, the law office should complete the Law Office Climate Challenge Update Form and submit it to SEER or LPM. The reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be recorded on the Law Office Climate Challenge web-site. The ABA will recognize as a Law Office Climate Challenge Leader a law office that achieves at least a ten percent reduction in energy, in the case of an organization that owns its own building, or electricity, in the case of a tenant organization.

    6. How are the Environmental Benefits Calculated for ENERGY STAR?

    Environmental benefits may be calculated by multiplying the electricity savings, which are calculated in kilowatt hours, or energy savings, which are generally calculated in Btus (British thermal units), by standardized amounts of pounds of pollutants emitted per kilowatt hour or Btu. If using Portfolio Manager, carbon dioxide emission reductions are calculated automatically. Additionally, the following calculators may be useful to determine both the greenhouse gas emissions avoided and environmental benefits achieved by using less energy: http://www.epa.gov/cleanenergy/powerprofiler.htm and http://www.usctcgateway.net/tool/

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