WASHINGTON — Twenty commercial buildings — the first of more such energy-efficient buildings to come — will sport the “Energy Star” label, according to two federal agencies that developed the program.

The announcement was made at the June 9 Energy Efficiency Forum, sponsored by Johnson Controls and the United States Energy Association (USEA).

Breaking the news were Dan Reicher, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the Energy Department, and Paul Stolpman, director of atmospheric programs for the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Before, there was no uniform way to rate energy efficiency in buildings,” said Reicher. “Now, in effect, every office building in America is on a level playing field.”

“U.S. business loses $25 billion of profits in wasted energy from inefficient buildings,” said Stolpman. “Energy efficiency is a powerful, easy way to prevent pollution. By the year 2010, 60% of all carbon dioxide emissions will arise from equipment purchased between now and 2010.”

A qualifying building must score 75 or higher on a 0 to 100 benchmarking scale. This puts it in the top 25% of commercial buildings in the country. Licensed, professional engineers verify compliance with current industry standards for indoor environment.

Factors include geographic location, weather patterns, and the level of business activity.

Buildings that have “average” energy performance could qualify by reducing their energy consumption 30% to 35% through cost-effective upgrades such as hvac systems, insulation, lighting, and building controls.

About 25% of all commercial buildings already qualify for the label, the government estimates. Buildings that are currently eligible can apply for the label during the next 18 months.

There are no costs associated with using the Internet-based Benchmarking Tool, located at www.epa.gov/buildings. Evaluating requires the use of the tool at www.epa.gov/build inglabel.

To apply for the label, a professional engineer must verify the nominated building’s energy performance.

The first 20 labeled buildings are the Occidental Chemical Center, Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Centex Building, Dallas; Denver Place, Plaza Tower, and Manville Plaza, Denver; Ridgehaven Green Building, San Diego; Landmark II Building and 6310 San Vincente, Los Angeles; 2800 28th St., Santa Monica, Calif.; Lockheed Martin, Orlando, Fla.; Emigrant Savings Bank and Foley Square Federal Office Building, New York; One State Street, Hartford, Conn.; Two Twenty Two Berkeley, Boston; 20 Commerce Drive, Cranford, N.J.; 1811 and 2000 Bering, Houston; Frank J. Lausche State Office Building, Cleveland; International Finance Corp. Building, Washington; and Perimeter Center South, Atlanta.

The Energy Star label program began for energy-efficient computers in 1992, and has expanded to more than 25 products including heating-cooling systems, refrigerators, fax machines, office equipment, and now, buildings. More information on the various programs is contained at www.energy star.gov (website).