Using energy efficiently has been a critical focus of CNT’s efforts to improve urban sustainability. In 2000, CNT Energy (formerly known as the Community Energy Cooperative) was created to explore new ways to measure energy usage and to assist individual consumers and concerned communities in achieving sustainable, affordable energy solutions.
The energy programs at CNT are consolidated under the division CNT Energy, a 501c(4) non-profit organization helping consumers and communities obtain the information and services they need to reduce their consumption and costs. CNT Energy’s areas of focus include building performance and energy efficiency, real-time electricity pricing, climate change analysis, regional energy planning, and green building research and evaluation.
CNT Energy offers consumer households up-to-date information on the rapidly changing energy market in Illinois. Members gain access to educational programs on managing energy costs, as well as opportunities to participate in pilot programs designed to benefit consumers.
CNT Energy will continue developing innovative programs and strategies to reduce energy consumption and costs, and will work to help communities become healthier and more sustainable.
To learn more about CNT Energy’s programs and tools, visit our Web site at www.cntenergy.org.
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 at 2:39 pm
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Coordinate Gas and Electric Programs: Coordinate administration across utilities to simplify and speed up the process for multifamily building owners.
- 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.
- 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.
- Make Rebates Accessible and Easy: Convenience is an important determinant of participation.
- 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.
- Provide Follow-Up and Aggregated Building Energy Use Data: Quality control is critical to success, reducing rework and improving customer satisfaction.
- 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.
Friday, March 15th, 2013 at 3:21 pm
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.
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.
Friday, February 1st, 2013 at 6:16 pm
CNT’s affiliate, CNT Energy, hit a milestone this month:more than 10,000 apartment units in the Chicago metropolitan area have been retrofitted with energy efficiency improvements through its Energy Savers program. Energy Savers, a one-stop shop that helps multifamily building owners make energy efficiency improvements to their properties, saves building owners 30 percent on utility costs on average ($10,000 per year for a 24-unit building), allowing landlords to keep rents reasonable because of those savings. Additionally, the program has cut more than 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, created nearly 400 jobs, and provided nearly $10 million in loans and grants to complete the building improvements.
Lou Sopcic owns a 96-unit building located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. “Going through the Energy Savers program made owning this building viable,” said Sopcic. “Energy efficiency for this building is the difference between being able to balance expenses and losing our property.” The savings helped Sopcic preserve nearly 100 units of affordable housing.
The Energy Savers program helps building owners navigate the entire process, from receiving an assessment to completing the work. An expert team conducts an on-site building assessment to help owners identify the most cost-effective investments for the building. The program offers low fixed-rate financing for the rehab, guidance on available rebates or incentives, construction oversight, and annual savings reports.
The Energy Savers Multifamily program is currently open to owners of multifamily building with five or more units located in the seven-county Chicago metropolitan region and the City of Rockford. We also now also offer Energy Savers programs for nonprofits and public buildings.
The Energy Savers program is a joint program of CNT Energy and the Community Investment Corporation (CIC). For more information on the program here or how Energy Savers can save you money here.
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