WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized 18 organizations for achieving significant energy savings and leading their fields in responding to the agency's Energy Star Building Challenge.

Those honored for achieving at least 10 percent energy savings included school districts, a hospital and supermarket, hotel, banking, and commercial real estate companies. They were recognized by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson who also re-issued the challenge, emphasizing improved energy efficiency as a solution to rising energy costs.

"Whether you are running a business, a school, or a household, getting the most out of our energy dollars just makes sense," stated Johnson.

"EPA is proud to recognize the leaders who have accepted the Energy Star Commercial Building Challenge by saving on their energy bills and helping reduce the demand on our nation's energy supply - all while protecting our shared environment for the next generation."

The organizations recognized used EPA's national building energy performance rating system, which helps building managers score the efficiency of their buildings on a scale of 1 to 100, set goals for improving building efficiency, and document their improvements. These organizations have either documented a 10 percent or greater improvement across all the buildings within their organization, or have earned an exemplary average rating across all of their buildings. EPA's national building energy performance rating system has been available since 1999, and more than 20,000 buildings have been rated.

EPA announced the Energy Star Commercial Building Challenge last spring, encouraging each building owner and manager to make their buildings more efficient. Commercial and institutional buildings are estimated to use about $80 billion worth of energy each year and contribute about 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

The 2005 Energy Star Leaders are: Buehler Food Markets; Cambridge Savings Bank; Colorado Springs School District 11; Columbus Hospitality; Douglas, Emmett & Company; Food Lion LLC; Giant Eagle Inc.; Granite Properties; Gresham-Barlow School District; H-E-B Grocery Company; Independent School District 197; New York Presbyterian Hospital; Rochester City School District; Saunders Hotel Group; South Colonie Central School District; USAA Real Estate Company; The Vanguard Group; and York County School Division.

For more information about Energy Star, visit www.energystar.gov.

Publication date: 11/14/2005