The popular Energy Star label has long been associated with kitchen appliances and laundry machines. But now, high-rise residential buildings can earn the same gold star as part of a new national pilot program from the Environmental Protection Agency. The first building to get the label: 1212 MLK Apartments, a 54-unit affordable complex in the Bronx developed by Dunn Development Corp. and the nonprofit Beulah HDFC.

To qualify for the Energy Star label, a high-rise's energy consumption must be reduced by at least 20 percent compared to a typical code-compliant building (as shown through computer modeling). 1212 MLK Apartments features a wide-range of energy savings products including motion sensors on lights in corridors, stairwells, and common areas; low-E argon-filled glass in all windows; low-flow faucets and showerheads; and, of course, Energy Star appliances.

Participants' savings will be monitored via an ongoing three-year commissioned study. “Part of what attracted us to the Energy Star pilot program is its goal to figure out what works and what doesn't work,” says Martin Dunn, president and founder of Dunn Development, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based firm. (The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is implementing the program in its state.)

The pilot is expected to run through the end of 2007, at which time the EPA will decide whether to expand the pilot or roll out the program nationally, says David Lee, branch chief of the agency's Energy Star residential branch. An Energy Star program for single-family home and low-rise multifamily buildings was launched in 1995.