Four Texas cities declined from 2008 to 2009 in federal rankings of cities with the most energy-efficient commercial buildings earning the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label.

The four – Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio – all appeared on the EPA’s initial annual ranking of the 25 cities with the most commercial buildings receiving the Energy Star in 2008. That list was released last March.

On Tuesday, the EPA issued its city rankings for Energy Star designations of commercial buildings in 2009. Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin all were lower on the new list than they were on the 2008 list. San Antonio was not among the 25 cities on the 2009 list.

Houston had the sixth-largest number of commercial buildings getting the Energy Star in 2009. It was No. 3 on the 2008 list.

Dallas-Fort Worth was No. 8 in 2009 and No. 5 in 2008.

Austin fell to No. 18 in 2009 from  No. 13 in 2008.

San Antonio, not on the 2009 list, was No. 16 in 2008.

Releasing the 2009 list, the EPA touted energy-efficient buildings’ ability to save money and linked the program to climate change that scientists attribute to carbon dioxide emissions from energy production using fossil fuels:

“Communities from Los Angeles [No. 1 on the 2009 list] to Louisville [No. 25] are reducing greenhouse gases and cutting energy bills,” Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in an announcement, which added:

Energy use in commercial buildings accounts for 17 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of over $100 billion per year. EPA awards the Energy Star to commercial buildings that perform in the top 25 percent of buildings nationwide compared to similar buildings. Thirteen types of buildings can earn the Energy Star, including schools, hospitals, office buildings, retail stores and supermarkets.

Houston had 133 buildings with floorspace totaling 64 million square that earned the Energy Star in 2009, compared to 145 buildings with 58.3 million square feet in 2008.

Dallas-Fort Worth had 113 Energy Star buildings in 2009 with 33.1 million square feet, compared to 126 buildings with 32.4 million square feet in 2008.

Austin’s 55 Energy Star buildings with 8 million square feet in 2009, compared to 77 buildings with 10.9 million square feet in 2008.

Jane Baxter Lynn, executive director of the Central Texas-Balcones Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, had no comment on the changing Energy Star rankings, but said the chapter’s 55-county region continues to see growing interest in energy-efficient construction. The region includes Austin and San Antonio.

“It is almost getting to the point where it’s not an option,” she told Texas Climate News. “It’s just something that makes sense. It has definitely gone mainstream.”

The number of projects certified in Central Texas under the council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program has increased significantly in recent years, she added.

The EPA noted that Los Angeles was the No. 1 city in both the 2009 and 2008 rankings, and that Lakeland, Fla., and New York City had joined the top 10 cities on the 2009 list. Lakeland, located about midway between Orlando and Tampa-St. Petersburg, was in seventh place on the 2009 list but did not appear among the top 25 cities in 2008’s ranking.

– Bill Dawson