According to the Better Buildings Challenge website (initiated by the U.S. Department of Energy and President Obama) this project is described as supporting “commercial and industrial building owners by providing technical assistance and proven solutions to energy efficiency. The program also provides a forum for matching Partners and Allies to enhance collaboration and problem solving in energy efficiency.” This is a request to U.S. businesses, schools, and state governments to reduce energy consumption across their buildings by 20 percent or more by the year 2020. Through sharing their information with the Department of Energy, the idea is that as buildings across the country find smarter solutions, other similar structures will be able to take these blueprints and apply those solutions themselves.

There have so far been two major projects when it comes to the Atlanta branch of the Better Buildings Challenge. One of these is the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church that has seen a 30% savings in energy consumption since its renovation, with the expected annual savings from this lessened energy usage set at $64,562. The improvements this project introduced included installation of efficient LED lighting along with a better control of the building’s HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems. And as expected, their waste removal has been overhauled with recycling and composting being put into effect as well as the reduced consumption of materials that are considered non-recyclable throughout the building.

A much more ambitious project for the Atlanta BBC came in the form of upgraded Atlanta Civic Center. While the energy savings are less than that of St Luke’s (the listing is at 25%) the expected annual savings on energy consumption and costs is a whopping $200,000. This number is down from the $500,000 annual cost quoted in an article on the website of the State & Local Energy Report. This came from the installation of new high-efficiency HVAC and water heating systems along with lighting replacements of high-efficiency LED and fluorescent lighting. A whole lot of dumpster rentals in Atlanta were required to get that waste out of the building, and thankfully all of it was processed through a recycling center. The Atlanta BBC is starting with the central business district in downtown but hoping an overhaul for much more of the city will benefit not only residents but tourists as well when all of the upgrades have been made.

The Better Buildings Challenge has spread across the country, taken up by a multitude of corporations making their headquarters use less energy, as well as major companies saving energy by converting their manufacturing plants to a more efficient model. There are 27 states, along with the District of Columbia taking part in the BBC, with cities and counties alike joining. There are even local school districts as well as universities getting involved. While all of that upgrading and renovating is good for the roll-off rental business, it is even better for the environment as a whole. With the current state of our planet, innovative solutions that share knowledge is the direction we need to head in for smarter energy consumption.