Published on January 31st, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill3
Apartment Buildings Could Save Billions with Energy Efficiency Improvements
A new report shows that multifamily buildings—analyst-speak for apartment buildings—could save residents and owners both up to $3.4 billion across America if simple energy efficiency upgrades were made.
The report, Engaging as Partners in Energy Efficiency: Multifamily Housing and Utilities, was released late last week by CNT Energy and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
The report demonstrates a saving of 15 to 30 percent in buildings with five or more residential units by making cost-effective upgrades that help reduce energy use. The key, the report explains, is getting energy utilities and apartment building owners to work together more closely to develop effective energy 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 coauthor 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,” she said.
Findings from the report showed that energy efficiency upgrades not only improve the bottom line for apartment buildings, but also help maintain affordable housing for residents while increasing their comfort levels, and they decrease financial risk for lending institutions.
That being said, finding the technical assistance necessary, the financing, and the right qualified contractors is often difficult for building owners.
The report also drew out several regions where there are a large number of “multifamily buildings” where particularly dramatic benefits from improvements in energy efficiency policy could be seen: these include Florida, Illinois, Texas, and the District of Columbia.
“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.”
This report has been widely read and received, with Duane Larson, Director of the Energy Efficiency Strategy at Pacific Gas & Electric Company, stating that “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.”
“Utilities and local regulations vary dramatically from state to state and region to region, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution,” says Eric Mackres, ACEEE senior policy analyst. “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.”