Almost all buildings have the potential to become energy-saving superstars. (Photo by Kevo89.)

In the 12 years since the debut of LEED certification, the green-building stamp of approval has become the holy grail for every earth-loving contractor and home-builder. But while brand-new, Dwell magazine-worthy eco-structures are a flashy way to highlight new construction practices, the greenest buildings, it turns out, are almost always old ones. By fixing up an old building, you’re saving the planet all the costs of growing, manufacturing, and shipping new building materials all over creation, putting yourself decades ahead of a new building in terms of mitigating climate impacts.

LEED has a special set of awards (silver, gold, platinum) for existing buildings that have energy efficiency retrofits and other upgrades, but these rising energy-saving superstars haven’t seen much limelight — until now. Next month, the first annual EBie Awards will recognize impressive environmental performance improvements in existing buildings (existing buildings – E.B. – get it?).