The multifamily affordable housing sector is full of untapped energy potential. Buildings are frequently in need of efficiency repairs and improvements that when carried out provide reliable energy savings. However, the multifamily affordable housing sector has long presented challenges for efficiency programs because it defies categories and involves numerous interested parties, making it hard to reach.
To be effective, utility programs must be carefully crafted and tailored to meet the unique needs of the multifamily affordable sector. Developing and implementing well-designed programs targeted to the multifamily affordable housing sector can help utilities meet their energy efficiency goals, maintain affordable housing, and create healthier living environments for residents.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has identified the following programs as exhibiting best practices in program design for achieving energy savings in multifamily buildings:
Low-Income Multi-Family Retrofit (Massachusetts) – The Low-Income Multi-Family Retrofit program provides public, nonprofit, and for-profit owners of low-income housing statewide with a one-stop shop for cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. Services include benchmarking tools, energy assessments, technical assistance, and grants for energy efficiency upgrades. The program is funded by Massachusetts electric and gas utilities and implemented by the Low-Income Energy Affordability Network.
Puget Sound Energy (Washington state) – Puget Sound Energy provides rebates and energy and water audits in collaboration with the Saving Water Partnership, an alliance of the Seattle and King County water utilities.
Multifamily Performance Program (New York) – The Multifamily Performance Program provides per-unit incentives as well as low-cost financing for new construction and retrofits of existing multifamily buildings that achieve 15 percent energy savings from electric and gas. A member of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s network of service providers performs an energy audit and creates an energy reduction plan to identify how to achieve the 15 percent target. Escalating performance incentives are paid to owners for achieving savings over 20 percent.
Energy Savers (Chicago) – Energy Savers is an energy retrofit program of Elevate Energy and the Community Investment Corporation targeting existing mid- to-low-income, affordable, and subsidized properties in the Chicago area. The program draws on a mix of funding sources including Illinois utilities; state, local, and federal governments; and foundations to provide property owners comprehensive energy retrofits.