Energy Efficiency Matchmaking Part 2: Utility Industry, We Have a Multifamily Roadmap for You

In a recent post, we highlighted a report that shows how energy efficiency upgrades in multifamily buildings could save building owners and residents up to $3.4 billion annually. Despite this, the multifamily building sector represents a mostly untapped opportunity for energy efficiency gains amongst traditional utility-run programs.

One reason for this is because the multifamily market has unique challenges that must be addressed in order to deliver effective programs. The good news is, we have a roadmap and there are partners along the way to help utilities capitalize on the enormous opportunity for energy savings that exists in the multifamily housing sector.

A new report we released along with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Engaging as Partners: Introducing Utilities to the Energy Efficiency Needs of Multifamily Buildings and Their Owners, examines the factors that contribute to effective energy efficiency program design for multifamily buildings and recommends strategies that can help utilities design and implement energy efficiency programs.

Here are recommended strategies, from the report:

  1. Segment the Multifamily Market: Segmenting the multifamily market into several common local building types, ages, and split incentive structures will increase program efficiency and improve service.
  2. Design Programs that Overcome Split Incentive Barriers: Overcome split incentive barriers (when building owners are responsible for investing in energy efficiency improvements, while tenants reap the benefits via lower energy bills) by pro­viding sufficient incentives to building owners.
  3. Coordinate Gas and Electric Programs: Coordinate administration across utilities to simplify and speed up the process for multifamily building owners.
  4. Choose the Most Appropriate Delivery Mechanism for the Program: Programs that are conve­nient and use trusted partners help educate potential custom­ers and break down barriers.
  5. Integrate Comprehensive and Direct Install Solutions: Combine the two activities into one project to achieve economies of scale, create a single point of communication, and decrease disruptions.
  6. Make Rebates Accessible and Easy: Convenience is an impor­tant determinant of participation.
  7. Partner with Sources of Attractive Multifamily Financing: Consider a trusted financing partner and an opportunity to educate multifamily clients about efficiency upgrades when they seek other financ­ing.
  8. Provide Follow-Up and Aggregated Building Energy Use Data: Quality control is critical to success, reducing rework and improving customer satisfaction.
  9. Engage with Key Multifamily Industry Players: Collaboration with other organizations can heighten the impact of a multifamily energy efficiency program.

The other good news is that while building owners in many areas historically have not made energy efficiency investments a high priority, utilities can and have designed effective programs for the multifamily sector. Read the full report for case studies on some of these programs.

This report is a follow-up to an earlier report that introduced building owners and housing advocates to the utility sector.

This post was originally published on the CNT Energy blog.