A building at the University of Central Florida reduced its energy consumption by 63 percent in one year and won first place in the national “Battle of the Buildings” contest sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The electricity bill for Parking Garage C was cut by more than half in the EPA’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition, which challenged 245 commercial buildings to save energy, reduce costs and protect Americans’ health and the environment. The results were announced today.

Parking Garage C is the only stand-alone parking structure to take part in the two-year-old competition. The garage is located on the east side of UCF’s main campus, near the engineering buildings.

“These types of initiatives allow us to further demonstrate UCF’s commitment to sustainability,” said David Norvell, UCF’s director of Sustainability & Energy Management. “A parking garage winning the competition also shows that there are ways of using energy more efficiently in all types of facilities.”

The EPA competition included 26 types of commercial buildings from 33 states and the District of Columbia. Participants included schools, hotels and museums.

The competition compared buildings’ energy use between two yearlong periods by measuring their energy use intensity (EUI), which represents the energy consumed by a building relative to its size. Parking Garage C won for demonstrating the greatest percentage reduction in EUI from Sept. 1, 2010, through Aug. 31, 2011.

At UCF, the Department of Sustainability & Energy Management worked with Parking and Transportation Services to make Garage C as efficient as possible by performing retrofits of older equipment.

All of the garage’s interior lights were replaced with T5 fluorescent bulbs that use less energy and improve light quality. New low-maintenance, energy-efficient LED lighting fixtures are anticipated to require little to no service for about 14 years.

“On our campus, all six parking structures now maintain the same lighting, resulting in a friendlier environment, reduction in pollution and longer-lasting bulbs,” said Kris Singh, director of UCF Parking and Transportation Services.

According to the EPA, energy use in commercial buildings accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at a cost of more than $100 billion per year. An average of 30 percent of energy used by commercial properties is wasted, the agency says.

From improvements in operations and maintenance to upgrades in equipment and technology, this year’s “Battle of the Buildings” competitors together saved more than $5.2 million on annual utility bills. They also prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity used by more than 3,600 homes per year.

To learn more about “Battle of the Buildings,” go to http://www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings.