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Cities with the Most ENERGY STAR Certified Buildings in 2017

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Earlier in June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual ranking of ENERGY STAR Top Cities. According to the EPA, the list "shows which metro areas were home to the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in the previous year."

The Top Cities for 2017, based on the numbers of 2016 certified buildings, were:
  1. Washington, DC
  2. Los Angeles
  3. New York City
  4. San Francisco
  5. Atlanta
  6. Dallas
  7. Chicago
  8. Houston
  9. Boston
  10. Phoenix


At the head of the Top Cities list, Washington, DC had 790 certified buildings totaling 174 million square feet. Meanwhile, Phoenix had 204 buildings totaling 36 million square feet.

Chicago now ranks seventh—the lowest position that Chicago has held since the first list was published in 2009. Chicago ranked as high as third in 2013 (with 353 certified buildings), and was fourth in 2012 (294 buildings) and 2011 (232 buildings).

Even though Chicago had nearly the same number of certified buildings this year (268) compared to last year (281), it was surpassed by Dallas, which jumped sharply from 249 buildings last year to 343 buildings this year.

On the basis of square footage, however, Chicago ranks third, with 127 million square feet of certified buildings in 2016, behind only Washington, DC (174 million square feet) and New York City (163 million square feet). The difference in Chicago's rankings indicates that Chicago has, on average, very large certified buildings, while other cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Dallas have, on average, smaller certified buildings.

In terms of total number of certified buildings, it is understandable that Chicago is bested by Washington, DC (which has many government buildings), Los Angeles (which is a larger city), and New York City (which is a much larger city), but it is surprising that Chicago was surpassed by both Dallas and Atlanta.

It's also intriguing that Dallas has many more certified buildings than Houston, given their similar climates but different sizes. (Houston had a 2016 population of 2.3 million and occupies 639 square miles of land, while Dallas had a 2016 population of 1.3 million and occupies 340 square miles of land.)

The EPA's ENERGY STAR program for buildings and plants is intended to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption, prevent greenhouse gas emissions, and save organizations money. The EPA reports that regions in the Top Cities list "continue to make impressive strides in cutting American energy bills and pollution through energy efficiency. Their efforts contribute to stronger economies, healthier communities, and cleaner air for all of us."

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