Los Angeles, Washington, Atlanta top Energy Star ratings

Commercial buildings are notorious energy hogs, making up 17 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. That's according to the EPA, which just released its latest list of the cities with the most Energy Star-certified buildings.

As it has for six years, Los Angeles tops the list, now counting close to 450 certified buildings. It's followed by Washington, D.C., which held the No. 2 spot last year as well. Atlanta, New York City and San Francisco follow.

Chicago dropped to No. 6 from No. 3 in 2013. Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia and Houston round out the top 10.

The EPA says that buildings with Energy Star credentials saved more than $3.1 billion on utility bills in a year, the equivalent of taking 3.3 million cars off the road. A structure must perform in the top 25 percent of buildings of its kind around the nation in order to be Energy Star-certified.

Energy Star focuses on efficiency measures. It isn't quite on the bleeding edge when it comes to green building programs, as is something like the Living Building Challenge, which requires net-zero energy, waste and water. However, Energy Star is a prerequisite for LEED-EBOM certification — the popular Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings for existing buildings.

The 20 types of eligible buildings include offices, retail stores, hotels, data centers, bank branches and hospitals, as well elementary and high schools and places of worship. The EPA says that Energy Star offices cost 50 cents per square foot less to operate than others.

Energy Star-certified buildings include a wide range of corporate headquarters: Aflac, Dr. Pepper Snapple, FedEx, Hertz, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Owens Corning, Samsung, US Airways and Whole Foods Market. Non-corporate Energy Star headquarters include those for Boys & Girls Club, the National Geographic Society and the International Monetary Fund. Here is the latest full list of buildings.

More than 23,000 U.S. buildings were Energy Star-certified by the end of 2013 — more than 10 times as many as there were a decade ago. The Environmental Protection Agency launched Energy Star for buildings in 1995 and issued its first "top cities" list in 2009. 

Here are the top 25 city rankings:

1. Los Angeles
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Atlanta
4. New York City
5. San Francisco
6. Chicago
7. Dallas
8. Denver
9. Philadelphia
10. Houston
11. Charlotte, N.C.
12. Phoenix
13. Boston
14. Seattle
15. San Diego
16. Minneapolis
17. Sacramento, Calif.
18. Miami
19. Cincinnati
20. San Jose, Calif.
21. Columbus, Oh.
22. Riverside, Calif.
23. Detroit
24. Portland, Ore.
25. Louisville, Ky.

Photo of Los Angeles by holbox via Shutterstock