ACEEE: Energy efficiency spending for multifamily buildings triples
Utility-sector energy efficiency programs that serve older, inefficient multifamily buildings have nearly tripled their spending in the last four years

by Brianna Crandall — March 15, 2017 — According to a blog by Stefen Samarripas, research analyst, ACEEE Local Policy, a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) shows that one in six American households resides in the apartments or condominiums of multifamily buildings, and while new multifamily buildings are being constructed across the country, most residents still live in older buildings that are not energy-efficient.

ACEEE’s newly released report provides encouraging news for apartment and condominium dwellers who want to reduce the cost of their energy bills. Utility-sector energy efficiency programs that serve these buildings have nearly tripled their spending in recent years. While these programs still face challenges, many are expanding the products and services they offer to upgrade buildings.

Addressing the challenge of retrofitting America’s multifamily buildings

Historically, energy efficiency programs have not sufficiently served the multifamily sector. As ACEEE identified in a report last year, it can be difficult to effectively market efficiency programs to the owners and managers of multifamily buildings, who face many competing priorities for their time and resources.

They may find it difficult to navigate an efficiency program’s application process or obtain financing for upgrades. Program managers have also struggled to convey the total benefits of efficiency upgrades, which can include not only energy savings but also reduced operation and maintenance costs, improved tenant satisfaction, and healthier indoor environments.

Multifamily energy efficiency is improving

ACEEE’s new report examines energy efficiency programs serving the 51 metro areas with the most multifamily households. It documents those programs that have successfully tackled the above challenges and expanded their capacity to serve the multifamily market.

In 2015, these programs spent $291 million in the nation’s largest multifamily markets to provide incentives and no-cost measures that upgrade apartment and condo buildings. This level of spending is nearly triple the spending that ACEEE estimated in its 2013 report, Scaling Up Multifamily Energy Efficiency Programs: A Metropolitan Area Assessment. Not only has spending increased, but it also occupies a greater share of many utility-sector energy efficiency budgets, according to the report.

The new report, More Savings for More Residents: Progress in Multifamily Housing Energy Efficiency, is available from the ACEEE Web site.