Energy efficiency programs funded by utility customers represent a significant opportunity to save energy in multifamily buildings, according to an American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy report.
However, multifamily buildings present unique challenges that can easily be overlooked when grouped into programs for single-family and/or commercial buildings. By failing to effectively deliver programs that reach this market segment, utility-sponsored programs miss out on significant energy savings potential.
Scaling up Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs: A Metropolitan Area Assessment looks at expansion opportunities for energy efficiency programs in multifamily buildings in the 50 US metropolitan areas with the largest multifamily housing markets.
The report is part of a multi-year ACEEE Multifamily Energy Savings Project to expand utility customer-funded energy efficiency programs for multifamily housing.
More than 20 million American households — about 18 percent — live in multifamily building, according to ACEEE.
Programs must overcome barriers including split incentives between landlords and tenants and building owners’ lack of capital to make major investments, the report says.
The study, which looked at the annual reports of more than 100 utilities, found one or more utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs for multifamily buildings in 30 of the 50 housing markets. The 20 markets without such programs, however, include Dallas and Miami, which are two of the largest.
Spending on multifamily programs varies between areas, from about $9 per residential utility customer in the Boston area to less than $1 in many areas. The median is 72 cents per customer.
The report kicks off ACEEE’s Multifamily March. Also this month, ACEEE will release a follow-up of its earlier multifamily housing sector report with CNT Energy. The new report, aimed at utilities and energy efficiency program managers, will give recommendations for creating effective programs.
Also coming soon: a best-practices guide to energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing from the National Housing Trust, a project in which ACEEE was a partner.
Ecova’s multifamily retrofit program implemented across Puget Sound Energy’s 1,020 properties has resulted in more than 34 million kWh in energy savings from direct-install measures in the first five years of the program, Ecova announced in late 2012.
Also in 2012, Efficiency Maine announced a $3.4 million incentives program for smaller multifamily buildings with the goal of completing 1,800 retrofit projects by September 2013. It is available for multifamily residences with five to 20 units regardless of income level or fuel type.