N.H. office buildings near top in energy efficiency

New Hampshire’s office buildings rank third in the nation for being the most efficient, says an internationally recognized energy economist.

Dr. Jerry Jackson, a researcher at Texas A&M University — whose market analysis and information system, or MAISY — has been used by the U.S. Department of Energy and national research labs, has found that 37.77 percent of offices in the Granite State meet or exceed the EPA’s Energy Star standard.

Based on a sample of commercial buildings in the 48 contiguous states, the energy-efficiency rankings were created by calculating the distribution of electricity efficiency in office buildings across the continental United States, then determining the fraction of buildings within each state that fall within the most efficient quartile of buildings.

Despite having some of the oldest buildings in the nation, the top four spots were taken by New England states. Maine placed first in country, with 41.70 percent of office buildings exceeding the Energy Star standard. Massachusetts was second (40.07 percent), and Vermont was fourth (37.72 percent).

Alabama and Virginia took 47th and 48th place, with just 15 percent of buildings meeting the efficiency standard.

Baseload electricity — which includes interior lighting, office equipment, other plugged devices and water heating but excludes heating, air conditioning and ventilation — was selected as the most accurate indicator of building energy efficiency, and accounts for 75 percent of an office building’s electricity use.

Jackson said that interior lighting accounts for 50 percent of baseload electricity use.

“Inefficiently lit office buildings can easily use twice as much electricity per square foot as more efficient buildings,” he said.

Office equipment and other items that are plugged in can account for an additional 40 percent of electricity use, he said.

“This ranking is important because it provides the first assessment of efficiency achievements in individual states and, more importantly, uncovers how much efficiency potential still exists,” said Jackson.

Jackson also said it is important to note that even in the states with the most efficiency a majority of office buildings “can still upgrade to the Energy Star standard.”

The full report and detailed methodology can be found at energybudgetsatrisk.com. NHBR

Cindy Kibbe can be reached at ckibbe@nhbr.com.