Waco Chamber rewarded for excellent energy efficiency

By Carmen Galvan
Staff Writer

The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has received the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star this year after earning a grade of 98 in energy performance, according to a statement released by the chamber.

The award certifies that a business or organization has met energy efficiency standards, said Lesly Rasco, vice president of communications for the chamber.

“It’s an efficiency rating because the building met enough of the specifications based on the efficient use of resources such as electricity and water,” Rasco said.

The Energy Star certification comes as no surprise to the chamber, because the chamber building was originally built to meet the similar energy efficiency standards for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The LEED certification is offered by the U.S. Green Building Council and certifies that a building or community is designed to conserve energy through different avenues such as water efficiency and lowered carbon dioxide emissions. The Waco chamber building was the first chamber building in the United States to meet the LEED standards, said Lauren San Miguel, research manager at the chamber.

“We built our building in line with the LEED certification, and the Energy Star was something I stumbled across,” San Miguel said. “The Energy Star demonstrates our commitment to energy efficiency and using our resources wisely, and it gives us the opportunity to encourage our member businesses to participate in this program as well.”

Rasco said the chamber expected to be certified.

“We’d already met specifications for Energy Star because of LEED, so when we submitted the application, we knew we would get it,” Rasco said.

San Miguel was a primary force in applying for the Energy Star certification, and she submitted the chamber’s application in late October. The application included 12 months of water and electricity bills and a completed questionnaire that was signed by a certified engineer. The chamber received a letter stating its certification on Nov. 19.

“The Greater Waco Chamber is pleased to accept EPA’s Energy Star in recognition of our energy efficiency efforts,” said James G. Vaughan, Jr., president and CEO of the chamber. “Through this achievement we have demonstrated our commitment to environmental stewardship while also lowering our energy costs.”

Rosco and San Miguel said they hope the chamber will serve as a green example for other businesses in Waco.

“Our main purpose is that we would like to see as many business in Waco look into the Energy Star program and submit their applications,” Rosco said. “The more businesses in Waco that has the rating shows that Waco is conscious of our energy use and energy efficiency, and as the chamber we are a business leadership organization and so it was very important that we have the Energy Star rating and making sure that other business have it as well.”

Several businesses and buildings in Waco hold the certification, including the George W. Truett Seminary, Veterans Affairs Regional Office and the Waco Courthouse.