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EPA’s Energy Star Out of Reach in the Real World

Fall 1996
Like plastic slipcovers on a summer night, the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts are sometimes misguided. Following its questionable opinions on underground fuel tanks and asbestos, the EPA has now created a maximum energy intensity for a congregation to declare itself an “Energy Star”.

A congregation must decrease by 35% its total annual energy use per square foot (measured in British Thermal Units or BTUs). Alternatively, a building used for religious worship has to meet the following energy standard in total BTUs per square foot per year according to the region in which it is located: Northeast -22,800, Midwest - 22 ,400, South - 16,300, West - 15,900.


In the Philadelphia area, the average total energy use for buildings used for religious worship is about 57,300 BTUs/SF/Year 2½ times the Energy Star target for the northeast.  Bill Rose of EPA in Washington DC told us that no congregations have yet qualified to be an “Energy Star” We think the EPA should have chosen more realistic goals.

What’s new about asbestos? In September 1995, the now defunct Office of Technology Assessment printed a book entitled. “Risks to Students in Schools. (document number OTA-ENV-066 from the US Government Printing Office.) OTA states on Page 144 that, “.Measurements showed, however, that the average levels at asbestos in buildings, including schools, differed little from concentrations in outdoor air.

Furthermore, these measurements, made in many buildings over a period of several years, provide no indication of episodic releases of high concentrations of asbestos.

And radon? In July 1996, the Journal of the National cancer Institute published a Finnish study of 1,973 lung cancer patients compared to 2,885 control subjects. The study concludes, .Indoor radon does not appear to be an important cause of lung cancer.

Anybody want to take on the EPA?