Green Bragging Rights: Cities with the Most Energy Star Buildings

March 31, 2015
Good schools, high employment and low crime used to be the bragging (or shame) points for city mayors. Now green and clean energy also tops the list. How many Energy Star buildings are within your city? Here’s the EPA list.

Good schools, high employment and low crime used to be the bragging (or shame) points for city mayors. Now green and clean energy also tops the list. This week the Environmental Protection Agency offered up another metric for mayors to consider when comparing their energy performance to others:  How many  Energy Star buildings are within your borders?

Among large cities, Washington, D.C. topped the 2015 list with 480 Energy Star buildings, followed close behind by Los Angeles with 475 buildings and then Atlanta with 328 buildings. (Scroll to full list below.)

Among mid-sized cities, the top three were in Virgina Beach/Norfolk/Newport News, Virginia with 81 buildings; San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, California with 70 buildings; and then Austin/Round Rock, Texas with 65 buildings.

Odessa, Texas was number one for small cities, with 31 buildings. All of the Energy Star buildings in Odessa are schools and school administration offices. They total 3.1 million square feet, and have saved $2.4 million in energy costs, the equivalent of the annual electricity use of 1,800 homes.

Number two for small cities was Daphne/Fairhope/Foley, Alabama with 27 buildlings. Third place went to Sioux City, Iowa with 24 buildings.

In all,  25,000 buildings across America have won Energy Star designations since 1999. The EPA says that the buildings have saved nearly $3.4 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions from the annual electricity use of nearly 2.4 million homes.

The federal government has been putting a lot of effort into decreasaing energy use in commercial buildings because they account for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year, according to the EPA. Energy Star  buildings use an average of 35 percent less energy and are responsible for 35 percent fewer emissions than typical buildings.

To create the annual top cities list, EPA tallies the number of Energy Star certified buildings for the end of the previous year within each metropolitan area. These areas include surrounding towns and suburbs.

Below is a list of the top 25 cities. See the mid-size and small city list here.


RankMetro areaBuilding CountTotal Floor Area (Million Sq ft)Cost savings (million $)Equivalent Homes’ Electricity Use for 1 Year2014 rank2013 rank2012 rank2011 rank2010 rank2009 rank
1Washington, DC480122.8127.173,500222224
2Los Angeles475109.7155.844,300111111
4New York299109.7137.750,70044651012
5San Francisco29275.3118.934,600565332
7Dallas-Fort Worth24862.142.140,1007881085
14Riverside, Calif.12712.419.84,3002224924
15Minneapolis-St. Paul12241.855.847,00016141413118
17San Diego9216.322.26,7001515192017
20Virginia Beach817.44.53,50025
22San Jose707.810.53,00020162122
23Portland, Ore.6511.28.15,100242323151218
25Salt Lake City556.16.34,50024

Source: EPA

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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