Multifamily Energy Retrofits Bring Big Savings

September 4, 2015

Owners of multifamily buildings who retrofit their properties to improve energy efficiency stand to reap substantial cost savings.  A costs analysis before and after such retrofits found that properties in HUD's Green Retrofit Program saved $213 per unit in annual energy costs and $95 for water. Whole building energy consumption was reduced by 18 percent.

The study conducted by Bright Power and Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, analyzed data from 179 properties in program and 57 properties in Illinois’s Energy Savers program. Properties in the Energy Savers program offered by Elevate Energy and the Community Investment Corporation reduced gas consumption by 26 percent or $195 per unit annually.

Water saving retrofits provided the biggest bang for the buck with a payback period of just one year for the GRP properties.  Energy saving retrofits in GRP properties had an estimated 15-year payback period , while gas savings for Energy Savers properties had a 7.3-year payback period.

Historically, multifamily energy efficiency programs have not required energy and water data tracking to measure savings, generally relying on data models or projections.  The process of accessing utility bills can be quite burdensome. But the growing recognition of the value of measuring such savings from water and energy retrofits means such information is expected to be helpful in the expansion of such efforts.

"Better data can provide investors and owners with the confidence to make large-scale investments, assure program managers that programs are working as intended, and allow engineers, consultants, architects, and equipment manufacturers to evaluate real-world feedback on the results of their efforts," the study's authors wrote in the executive summary of Energy and Water Savings in Multifamily Retrofits.

The initial data set used in the study included more than 13,000 separate utility accounts and more than 3,000 energy and water retrofits.