How Atlanta-based Boys & Girls Clubs became tops in energy efficiency

Finally, an Atlanta team that’s No. 1 at something!

It has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with energy efficiency. Specifically, the team challenge portion of the EPA’s 2015 ENERGY STAR National Building Competition. Now in its sixth year, the prestigious competition features teams of buildings from across the country vying to outdo each other at improving energy and water efficiency, lowering utility costs and more.

The Atlanta-headquartered Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) formed a team made up of 12 of its clubs in six states (including four in Georgia), along with Southface, the well-known sustainable building nonprofit located here. When the dust cleared — actually, it’s more like when the last drop of rainwater was harvested — the “BGCA All Stars” had finished first among 125 teams nationwide in water reduction and second in energy reduction.

The major win follows close on the heels of the EPA’s release in April of its “Top Cities” list of metropolitan areas with the most ENERGY STAR certified commercial buildings. With 311 such buildings, ranging from skyscrapers to schoolhouses, Atlanta ranked No. 4 nationwide and was the only Southern city to crack the top 25.

Arguably, though, this victory feels more personal.

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“The people we impact is always on our mind, but the work with BGCA has put a new face on energy efficiency,” said Dennis Creech, executive director of Southface. “Every dollar Boys & Girls Clubs save on utility costs allows them to serve more kids and teens each year.”

Indeed, by reducing water consumption in their buildings by a whopping 50.2 percent overall and energy use by 30.6 percent, the All Stars created $131,574 in annual savings. And along with no-brainers like installing high-performance LED lighting, they found novel ways to do so, from harvesting rainwater outdoors and putting pool blankets on heated pools to installing web-based thermostats with “occupancy sensors.”

[Related: Why Atlanta’s nearly tops in U.S. in having energy efficient buildings]

Ultimately, BGCA aims to reduce its lubs’ utility expenses by 20 percent annually. One “team” member in Georgia appears to be well on the way already: The South Rome Boys & Girls Club led all buildings in reducing water consumption. The rest of the Georgia All Stars were from Atlanta (Salvation Army Fuqua Boys & Girls Club), Dalton (Boys & Girls Club of Whitfield County - Carl Rollins Unit) and Moultrie (Boys & Girls Clubs of Moultrie/Colquitt County).

For profiles of the winning teams, go to and download the 2015 Competition Wrap-Up Report.

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