Report suggests energy upgrades in multifamily buildings could save over $3B annually
February 2, 2012 - Energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily buildings could save building owners and residents up to $3.4 billion nationwide, according to a report by CNT Energy and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
By Alyssa Dalton
Engaging as Partners in Energy Efficiency: Multifamily Housing and Utilities also noted that energy use in multifamily buildings can be reduced substantially, and cost-effective upgrades can result in utility cost savings of 15-30% in buildings with five or more residential units. The key to unlocking the savings, the report found, is for energy utilities and apartment building owners to work together more closely to develop effective energy efficiency policies.
“We have billions essentially sitting untapped in our apartment buildings. We can harness that by simply setting better policies for efficiency for apartment buildings,” said Anne McKibbin, CNT Energy policy director and co-author of the report. “Partnering with utilities is a crucial part of the process. Building owners and other housing industry players need to work with their utilities, engaging them directly and in local and state regulatory proceedings.”
Energy efficiency upgrades improve the bottom line for multifamily building owners, help maintain affordable housing, decrease financial risk for lending institutions, and improve occupant comfort, found the study, adding that building owners often have difficulty finding technical assistance, financing, or qualified contractors to upgrade their buildings.
“Maximizing energy efficiency is a win-win for apartment residents, building owners, energy utilities and our energy infrastructure,” said Doug Bibby, president of the National Multi Housing Council. “This report offers excellent ideas that we hope spur further cooperation between multifamily owners and utilities to create a more efficient partnership.”
Better coordination between apartment building owners and energy utilities could address that, according to the report’s analysis. The study found there is a vast, largely untapped opportunity to engage utilities in providing effective energy efficiency programs that target the multifamily sector. The study examined utilities’ involvement in various energy efficiency efforts and identified strategies the multifamily building community could use to work together for improved efficiency.
“We are thrilled to explore partnerships with apartment owners as a way of better serving our customers and reaching our energy efficiency goals. This paper outlines some important next steps for collaboration,” said Duane Larson, director, Energy Efficiency Strategy, Pacific Gas & Electric Company.
Stressing that no one-size-fits-all solution exists, Eric Mackres, ACEEE senior policy analyst, said: “The common thread is that partnering with the utility is crucial. This report outlines a variety of strategies that can help the multifamily housing sector to engage electric and natural gas utilities in order to expand the resources available for energy efficiency retrofits.”