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Sears Grand in Cape Girardeau, Mo., will participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and protect the environment. The store is part of the Sears Holdings Corporation.

In the spirit of popular weight-loss competitions, Sears will battle it out against hundreds of other teams representing buildings across the country to work off the waste through improvements in energy efficiency with help from EPA's Energy Star program.

"Sears is honored to be a part of the EPA's Energy Star National Building Competition for the second consecutive year," Michael Brown, director, environmental sustainability, said in a press release. "We are committed to improving our energy efficiency and we look forward to seeing how we measure up against other buildings across the nation. We are also excited to get the chance to improve upon our second-place finish in last year's competition."

The 2011 Energy Star National Building Competition includes 245 teams from 26 different types of commercial buildings, including retail stores, schools, hotels and museums. Eleven buildings are 100 years old or older, the smallest building is just over 6,000 square feet, and 15 buildings cover more than 1 million square feet of floor space with the largest totaling nearly 3 million square feet.

"Buildings of all shapes and sizes are saving money and energy with help from the EPA and Energy Star," Jean Lupinacci, director of EPA's Energy Star commercial buildings program, said in the release. "We applaud the contestants of EPA's Energy Star National Building Competition for taking action to protect the environment and save energy in the buildings where we work, play and learn."

Competitors will measure and track their buildings' monthly energy consumption using EPA's Energy Star online energy tracking tool, Portfolio Manager; make improvements to their buildings' energy performance and share their progress. Of the initial pool of 245 competitors, a small group of buildings will be selected as finalists in July. Among the finalists, the building that demonstrates the greatest percentage-based reduction in energy use will be recognized as the winner on Nov. 2.

To try to reduce energy consumption, the Cape Girardeau Sears Grand store has taken or will take the following actions:

  • Completed an interior lighting retrofit, which converted lighting from HID (high-intensity discharge) to more efficient fluorescent lighting.
  • Completed an occupancy sensor installation through the building to keep lights off when not in use.
  • Will maintain strict energy disciplines throughout the competition, having store employees treat the store as they do their own homes by turning off lights when they leave the room and closing doors to keep out cold winds.

According to the EPA, energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and energy use at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. On average, 30 percent of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted. Thousands of businesses and organizations work with the EPA's Energy Star program and are saving billions of dollars and preventing millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering our atmosphere each year.

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