Energy Efficiency Matchmaking Part 1: Large Apartment Building, Meet Your Energy Utility

Large apartment buildings represent a significant and mostly untapped opportunity for energy efficiency gains according to a bevy of reports out by researchers in the field. Traditional utility-run energy efficiency programs tend to focus on single family homes or commercial office buildings, leaving multifamily buildings across the United States wasting billions of dollars unnecessarily each year.

In 2012, we conducted a study with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) which shows that energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily buildings could save building owners and residents up to $3.4 billion annually. These upgrades help maintain affordable housing, decrease financial risk for lenders, and improve tenant comfort. But, building owners often have problems finding technical assistance, financing, or qualified contractors to upgrade their buildings.

The report finds that better coordination is the key to unlocking energy efficiency savings, and utilities and multifamily housing industry need to work together more closely to develop effective policies for that underserved building sector. For example, some states cap the investments that utilities can make in cost-effective energy efficiency, or limit programs to favor short-term savings over longer-term improvements like insulation and improved HVAC. The multifamily housing industry and utilities should work together to remove these limits and change policies to favor higher total savings.

This month, ACEEE released an assessment of the current landscape of multifamily energy efficiency programs in the metropolitan areas with the largest multifamily housing markets. (Click on the image below to see where your city stacks up.) The study found a total of 50 multifamily energy efficiency programs (some metro areas had multiple programs), but significant opportunities for improvement and growth.

How Does Your City Stack Up?

The evidence all points to the need to expand utility customer-funded energy efficiency programs for multifamily housing. A new report out in late March also supports this argument – we’re partnering up again with ACEEE to release a study that gets at how the multifamily housing sector is different than commercial, industrial, or single-family energy efficiency programs and why utilities may get more bang for their buck if they focus on this important, largely untapped sector. Look for our report the week of March 25th.

This post was originally published on the CNT Energy blog.