Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Newsletter: October 2019

In This Issue:

Key Announcements

  • Calling all Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily partners: It's Annual Plan season! Look for a meeting invite from your Account Manager to review last year's progress and set new goals for the year ahead. Please reach out to your Account Manager for questions.

annual planning session

  • The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has launched the “Scaling up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project.” This initiative is supported by a three-year funding award of $1.1 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office. As part of the project, CESA and the Clean Energy Group (CEG) will work with housing developers/owners and community development lenders to replicate and expand loan guarantee and other foundation program-related investment models for solar and solar plus battery storage projects for multifamily affordable housing.
  • Register for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA’s) 2019 Multifamily Summit, October 21-23 in Tarrytown, NY. Join industry experts to learn about the latest energy programs, technologies, and incentives available for multifamily buildings.
  • Thank you to our fall webinar attendees and featured speakers: Caitlin Rood, Ilene Mason, and Claire McLeish! A recording of the October 1st webinar on overcoming barriers to tenant data collection is now available.

New Better Buildings Challenge Approach for Assessing Multifamily Portfolio-Wide Energy Savings

The Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily Sector is introducing a new approach for assessing portfolio-wide energy savings. To date, program partners have been required to track and reduce whole-building energy usage, which includes both owner- and tenant- paid utilities. This approach is the best way to track and manage energy consumption.

portfolio energy savings

However, obtaining energy data for tenant-paid utilities has presented unique and significant challenges for multifamily properties where tenants are responsible for some energy costs. Therefore, while partners are still encouraged to obtain and rely on whole-building energy data, DOE has new guidelines to incorporate properties where no tenant-paid data is available.

With the new approach, the program takes into account all properties with whole-building data available AND incorporates remaining properties that have only owner-paid data available (including common area use, owner-paid heating fuel use, etc.).

Benefits to this approach:

  • Allows for the inclusion of all properties in program savings calculations,
  • Provides greater insight into energy savings for properties reporting only owner-paid receipts, and
  • Makes it more feasible to achieve a partner’s Better Buildings Challenge program goal.

In order to be eligible to display energy savings results on the Better Buildings Solution Center, or be eligible as a program Goal Achiever, the following whole-building data should be included:

  • All master metered properties (required)
  • All properties with access to utility provided aggregated whole building data (required)
  • Any properties where sampled tenant energy data has been collected

Properties with whole-building data must represent at least 30 percent of a partner’s committed square footage.

Percent improvement in energy performance is calculated across the full portfolio. An average for properties with whole-building energy data and owner-paid energy data is determined, weighted by baseline energy use.

Another challenge in the multifamily sector is that not all properties have energy data back to the baseline year, often due to limited historical availability of aggregated whole-building data or sampled tenant energy data. To address this challenge, partners may consider using the program’s average annual percent improvement (AAPI) savings methodology, an approach that was designed for portfolios that experience significant change over time. Using this approach, the baseline year data for each property is the first year with complete data. The average annual percent improvement across the portfolio is computed based on the individual percent improvement values for each property, from the relevant baseline for that property, weighted by the baseline energy use of each property.

For more information on the new approach for assessing multifamily energy savings, please reach out to your Better Buildings Challenge Account Manager.

Spotlight on Partner Success

Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority (MHA) was able to overcome a barrier familiar to many multifamily housing providers: a utility data tracking system lacking in-depth data analysis capabilities. Lucas MHA previously tracked each utility company’s data on an internal spreadsheet. However, this process did not provide staff with comprehensive data analysis for accurate monitoring of usage and savings. As a solution, Lucas entered into an agreement with a third-party software provider to implement a continuous energy oversight tool called My Utility Cabinet (MUC).

Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority's McClinton Nunn Homes

Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority's McClinton Nunn Homes

Preliminary data shows that the initiative may be contributing to energy and water savings results: by the end of 2018, Lucas MHA had reduced its portfolio-wide energy use intensity by 10 percent and its water use intensity by 34 percent from a 2015 baseline.

WinnCompanies acquired Atlantic Gardens apartments in Washington, D.C. in 1982. After 30 years, the property required a comprehensive rehabilitation. The project targeted Enterprise Green Communities certification, which helped inform the energy and water conservation measures. Project scope included installing new high-efficiency gas-fired split systems as well as direct vent hot water heaters, LED lighting fixtures, and ENERGY STAR® windows and appliances within each apartment unit. In addition to energy savings measures, WaterSense-labeled toilets, showerheads, and low-flow aerators were installed throughout the property. The project has resulted in 28 percent energy savings, 19 percent water savings, and $48,000 annual energy cost savings.

Atlantic Garden Apartments

Atlantic Garden Apartments

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