Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Newsletter: October 2021

In This Issue:

Key Announcements

Playground at an apartment complexWatch a recording of our September 28, 2021 webinar, What’s Next in Water Efficiency for Multifamily Housing. Learn about innovative irrigation techniques, rainwater harvesting systems, and cutting-edge toilet monitoring and leak detection technologies.

Don’t miss the Better Buildings Residential Network’s October 14, 2021 webinar, The Future of Investments in Residential Energy Efficiency and What It Means Now. This webinar will explore how the new budget and infrastructure legislation’s introduction of money into the market will impact residential energy efficiency.

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has published a new topic brief, An Overview of Affordable Multifamily Programs: Best Practices and Context for Utilities by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, that reviews best practices for utilities providing energy-efficiency services to affordable multifamily customers, highlights three existing program models, and discusses the local and state context in which each model functions best.

Resources for Building the Business Case for Energy Efficiency

A group of people in a meeting

Implementing a robust energy efficiency plan across an organization requires buy-in from leadership – especially when it comes to funding. Making a clear and compelling case for energy efficiency can help your organization determine how best to balance energy efficiency upgrade costs with competing funding priorities.

Advocates for efficiency should be prepared to answer the following questions before approaching financial and leadership teams at their organization about proposed energy efficiency projects:

  • What are the expected energy and cost savings over time?
  • How does the project align with organizational goals?
  • What are the upfront costs and how can they be paid?
  • How will operations be impacted?
  • What are the associated risks and benefits?

Communicating Energy and Cost Savings: Successful Examples from Better Buildings Partners

Presenting proposed investments in energy efficiency in terms of financial benefits is often the most persuasive message for decision-makers. Better Buildings partner USAA’s Building Upgrade Value Calculator can convert expected savings to meaningful metrics for financial team members. The Energy to Finance: Understanding the CFO and Translating Metrics presentation from the Retail Industry Leaders Association provides further guidance on communicating the value and impact of sustainability initiatives from a financial perspective.

Facing a lack of buy-in for energy efficiency projects despite prior successes, partner Kohl’s Department Stores embedded financial team members in the energy team to establish relationships and better communicate the benefits of efficiency proposals. This case study examines how the energy team was able to secure an annual emerging technologies budget, which allowed them to implement relatively small-scale interventions that demonstrate financial savings before making the case for rolling them out at scale.

Finance officers and other departments may also be concerned that investing in energy efficiency will divert funds from competing needs. Better Plants partner 3M recognized the working knowledge of production staff and asked for their suggestions to inform sustainable improvements that aligned with organizational goals without disrupting operations. In addition to creating a better-informed approach, 3M reported higher employee retention and satisfaction, as well as increased trust in management. 3M’s Energy Manager explains how the company achieved its goals and measured success in the 2021 Summit Session: Making the Case for Energy Efficiency.

Considering the Resilience Benefits of Energy Interventions

Increasing energy efficiency can also improve resilience by reducing overall energy demands during power disruptions, especially when paired with on-site generation, and help mitigate impacts contributing to major climate and weather events. Prioritizing resilience is also increasingly considered a necessary measure for attracting investors and protecting the value of the property and company. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) compiled information on the investor perspective, CFO Communications, and risk measurement in a fact sheet on Building the Financial Business Case for Resilience. National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) REopt Lite tool helps building managers evaluate and optimize renewable energy and storage projects and analyze resilience. Explore more strategies from Better Buildings partners to model and improve resilience.

Visit the Better Buildings Challenge Beat blog.

Spotlight on Partner Successes

Screenshot from the Decarbonization Download: 5 Qs video

Congratulations to multifamily partner Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) for being featured in DOE’s first installment of the Better Buildings Low Carbon Pilot’s “Decarbonization Download: 5 Qs” video series. In this first installment, Better Buildings Director Maria Vargas sat down with POAH’s Vice President of Design and Building Performance, Julie Klump, to discuss POAH’s Low Carbon Pilot projects, advice for other organizations looking to decarbonize, and the nexus with resilience. Watch the clip to learn how POAH is leveraging Passive House principles, solar PV, and solar storage to decarbonize their 120+ property affordable housing portfolio.

Corcoran Management Company’s longtime practice of using only high efficiency equipment and fixtures across its portfolio has resulted in achieving ENERGY STAR certification at multiple properties. In 2021, five Corcoran Management properties - Carlton Oaks, Quincy Commons, Shrewsbury Commons, Skyline Commons, and Weymouth Commons East - achieved ENERGY STAR certification. To be eligible for this certification, a building must earn an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, indicating that it performs better than at least 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide.

         
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